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Golden Knights Analysis

Golden Knights Offer How-to Playoff Guide in Game 2 Win



Vegas Golden Knights game, Jonathan Marchessault

Every time Jonathan Marchessault takes the ice he reminds the Vegas Golden Knights how much they need him and why they may not be able to afford to keep him.

Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy last year by leading the offensive charge in the Vegas Golden Knights’ march to their first Stanley Cup Championship. Wednesday, Marchessault continued his impressive postseason production with a goal and an assist to help Vegas post a 3-1 triumph against the Dallas Stars.

With his two points, pending UFA Marchessault now has a 12-game playoff points streak, dating to last season.

The No. 8-seeded VGK now holds a 2-0 lead over the top-seeded Dallas Stars in the best-of-seven Western Conference quarterfinals. The series now shifts to Vegas for  Game 3 Saturday (TBS, truTV,  SCRIPPS) at 7:30 p.m.

Vegas Coach Bruce Cassidy talked to his team about expecting the Stars to come out strong in Game 2 and that’s what happened as they claimed a 1-0 lead.  That’s the way the NHL works in the playoffs: A team loses Game 1 at home because it is not yet in playoff mode and then it finds its game early in Game 2.  The Golden Knights were ready.

“We bent but didn’t break, got saves,  countered with a nice goal, now it starts over,” Cassidy said. “Now we get to build our momentum — they are not building off their first period.”

Weathered Storm

That tying first period goal was scored by Marchessault with 1:51 left in the period. “It was a heckuva play by (Ivan Barbashev) on the goal… strips the guy of the puck and we suddenly we have quick strike,” Cassidy said.

As happened in Game 1, the experienced Vegas team began to shut down the Vegas offense. The Stars only managed 10 shots on goal over the final 40 minutes.  They went extended chunks of time in the third period without a shot.

Cassidy used four lines, none of his forwards played less than 10:55 minutes. Vegas played the perfect road game.

“We liked our game after the first,” Cassidy said.

Shutdown Defense

The Golden Knights’ final 40 minutes of play was a how-to guide for having success in the playoffs. This was a game where every Vegas did his job. Marchessault scored an important goal. Jack Eichel had two points, including an empty net goal to clinch the win. Goalie Logan Thompson made the 20 saves he needed to win.

“I think our guys really matured through the run last year,” Cassidy said. “…I just like what is said on the bench. Like their professional approach. When you address some of the things, they are receptive to it. ”

That’s the Vegas way: Everyone does his job and everyone will worry about the extra stuff, like Marchessault’s contract after the work is done.

“I think we expected them to come out and push hard that first 5-10 minutes, and they did,” Eichel said. “They were physical, played hard, they had some chances. [Logan Thompson] made some big stops for us. That’s a very desperate hockey team and a very good one. They gave us all we could handle.”