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Golden Knights Analysis

Golden Knights Win on Dramatic Late Goal; Stay Ahead in Playoff Race



Vegas Golden Knights game, beat Seattle Kraken

The Vegas Golden Knights are dancing with the Devil. They dominated the Seattle Kraken for most of the game but were a hit post away from trailing 2-1 later in the third period before they claimed what should have been theirs.

Brett Howden and Keegan Kolesar played the heroes. Howden beat Seattle defenseman Justin Schultz to the net, and Kolesear (6) chipped in the rebound for the game-winner with only 1:20 remaining. Chandler Stephenson (15) scored the empty netter for a 3-1 win at T-Mobile Arena.

Despite controlling the high-danger scoring chances and territory, the Golden Knights led Seattle only 1-0 after 40 minutes. On the out-of-town scoreboard, the St. Louis Blues beat the Ottawa Senators to pull within two points of the Golden Knights’ suddenly tenuous playoff position.

The Golden Knights’ dramatic win keeps them four ahead of St. Louis with a game in hand and pulled the VGK within two points of the LA Kings for third place.

On the Seattle power play, Jaden Schwartz deflected a point shot with 6:31 remaining in the game to tie the score 1-1. Seattle pressed. Eeli Tolvanen loudly rang the post behind goalie Logan Thompson with about five minutes remaining. Despite a superior performance, the Golden Knights were a fraction from falling behind.

Perhaps the biggest change from the Golden Knights Stanley Cup run to now is the more open style of play. The Golden Knights did not trade chances or give to get last season. They gave to get early Thursday but tightened the screws throughout the game, eventually dominating. The Golden Knights blocked 23 shots and seemingly controlled Seattle for much of the third period, but they lived dangerously, not getting the second goal until the near the end.

Seattle goalie Philip Grubauer was spectacular, especially as they blitzed him from the middle of the second period into the third.

Both Golden Knights’ goals were the type of greasy markers that win in the postseason, including the first tally. Jonathan Marchessault took the Seattle defensemen wide and deep before centering a pass into the slot. Jack Eichel (22) picked up the garbage and put it behind Grubauer.

Eichel had a whopping six shots in the first two periods and finished with seven. Eichel also had three scoring chances and won 73% of his faceoffs.

While the Golden Knights traded shots with Seattle early, they held firm in front of their net, keeping Seattle at arm’s length from the crease. The Golden Knights padded their shot lead to 23-16 with a surge late in the second period, but more importantly, the heat map showed precious few Seattle shots within a few feet of the net.

By the middle of the third period, the shot advantage was 33-19, but that’s when Seattle surged and almost swiped the valuable two points.

Jared McCann led Seattle with five shots. McCann got a pair of shorthanded rips at Thompson in the middle of the second period, the first drilling Thompson squarely in the mask, followed by a tight-angle shot.

Thompson followed Adin Hill’s shaky loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning with sometimes unsteady saves but saves nonetheless. Thompson took a step toward taking the Golden Knights’ unclaimed crease by allowing only one goal on 21 shots. Seattle has lost four straight and now trails the Golden Knights by 13 points in the playoff race. The third-year franchise will miss the playoffs for the second time.

Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb assisted on both goals. The VGK power play was 1-for-5 with seven shots on goal. Alex Pietrangelo missed his second consecutive game due to illness.