Vegas rallied from an early deficit, Zach Whitecloud would score the go-ahead goal with just over 13 minutes remaining and a crucial save from Adin Hill would highlight a 5-2 victory over Florida on Saturday night, to take a one game lead in the Stanley Cup Finals.
“We kept our composure, and it was good. We just wanted to play the right way and be disciplined, and tonight we were able to be the better team,” said Jonathan Marchessault, who scored a game tying goal in the first period.
Whitecloud put Vegas ahead in the third period, that would be followed up by captain Mark Stone scoring the fourth goal of the night for the Golden Knights, which was reviewed for a high stick and ultimately ruled good. Reilly Smith would add the fifth and final goal in a high octane offensive attack for Vegas in the third period.
The Golden Knights five goals and Adin Hill’s 33 saves put Vegas up in the series after a highly contested opening game, which featured plenty of jarring hits on the ice and even some pushing and shoving after referee’s whistles.
“It’s exactly what we expected, that’s how they wanted to play. We were just trying not to play into it,” said Shea Theodore.
Less than 10 minutes into the game, Hill was upset about Nick Cousins crashing into his crease and threw a punch at him, ultimately igniting a skirmish between the two teams. During the second period, Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk and Vegas’ Nic Hague were pitted in an altercation. Prior to that scuffle between the two, Hague hit Cousins in the corner during play and had a collision with Brandon Montour, which came after the whistle.
“If guys are going to come in my crease and try to push me around, I’m going to stand my own ground. I’m not going to do anything too crazy or get too wild, but, yeah, I’ve got to stand up for myself,” Hill said.
After falling behind in the first period on a short-handed goal by Florida’s, Eric Staal, the Golden Knights rallied for their ninth comeback win in this year’s playoffs. Marchessault, who’s made a career off scoring big goals, he would answer before the first period came to a close.
In the opening minutes of the second period, Hill pulled off a stick save to stop Nick Cousins from scoring what would have been a tying goal for the Panthers.
“That’s an unreal save, it’s a game-changer. You need those saves at key moments,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said.
Although, the Goldens Knights would unfortunately surrender one late in the second period. Anthony Duclair would get the Panthers back on the board with 10.2 seconds remaining, tying the score again in the second. That wouldn’t faze the Golden Knights, they owned the third period with three goals and gave Florida’s goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky, his second loss of the 2023 playoffs.
Bobrovsky would brush off any reason for concern moving forward in the series by saying, “I played a good game, I played a solid game. They created some good chances other than goals. They had lots of good scoring chances, and that was fun.”
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