A first career playoff goal from center Michael Amadio in the 85th minute of Game 3 saved the Vegas Golden Knights from a loss, shifting the home-ice advantage back in their favor.
Vegas beat Winnipeg, 5-4, in two overtimes Saturday, April 22 from the Canada Life Centre in Game 3 of their 1-8 first round playoff matchup. Prior to this outcome, the Knights hadn’t played in a multi-overtime game since 2019.
“I looked at the guys that were out there when we scored the goal,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They’re not the guys you’d first think of as high-minute guys [...] Happy for them, part of our gameplan and good plays for us have come from forechecks.”
After the win, Vegas leads the series 2-1 with Game 4 from the same venue looming. That game is scheduled to take place Monday, April 22 from the Canada Life Centre with puck drop set for 6:30 p.m.
“It’s hard to win hockey games in the playoffs so we’ll take them how we can get them,” captain Mark Stone said. “We want to close that game out for sure – it’s 4-1 heading into the third, we want to close that game out for sure.
“We’re going to look at the good and the bad and make some adjustments and I know that they’re going to make some adjustments.”
Just under four minutes into the second overtime session, Amadio was the recipient of a loose puck following a Winnipeg turnover in the Vegas offensive zone. Immediately upon touching the puck with his stick, Amadio sent it in the direction of Jets’ goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.
The goal came at full strength just moments after a Vegas power play was killed.
“I thought we did a good job all night,” Amadio said. “It’s nice to get the win there for sure. “
After the game, Amadio admitted that he did not see the game-winning goal enter the net but rather heard the reaction from his teammates.
The goal goes down as Amadio’s first career playoff goal in his fourth career playoff game. He picked up two points on the night while also assisting on a goal.
A vital save with 1.7 seconds left in the first overtime period from VGK goalie Laurent Brossoit salvaged the chance for another 20-minute session. However, it was a blitzkrieg in the third period that Brossoit had a hard time withstanding.
Coming into this game, Vegas was 19-0-0 when leading by two or more goals after two periods. In this one, the Knights went into the third period with a 4-1 lead.
Just over two minutes into the third period, Winnipeg put its second goal on the board. Things were quiet for the next 10-plus minutes before the Jets lit the lamp again, this time in a power play situation.
This series, Winnipeg is 3-for-10 on the power play. On the other hand, Vegas is 2-for-12 in the same situation.
“It’s funny [...] I didn’t feel like we were in trouble,” Cassidy said. “We’ve had games where it’s been sustained pressure, we can’t get out of our end, we ice the puck – we had a couple of icing where we could’ve been better. But, I don’t know, they just seemed opportunistic to me. They took advantage of some plays.”
The back-breaking goal came with just 22 seconds left in regulation when a third third period goal got past Brossoit, tying the game at four apiece. Brossoit finished the game with a .882 save percentage on 30 saves.
“There was no finger-pointing,” Cassidy said. “Guys were just in the moment, time to get back to work. We won’t be the first team to let a lead slip away, we won’t be the last.”
That comeback effort came on the heels of a fierce start on the road by the Knights. Center Chandler Stephenson scored his second goal of the playoffs just under three minutes into the game.
Stephenson’s goal provided a different wrinkle to the series after the Jets scored first in each of the first two games in Las Vegas.
It was more unfamiliar territory for Vegas after center Jack Eichel scored his second goal in as many games on a power play. Eichel topped his own performance when he scored another power play goal in the second period for his second goal of the night.
Eichel also assisted on a second period goal from right-winger Keegan Kolesar for a three-point night. Eichel is playing in his first playoffs this season.
“I think you start to understand what playoff hockey is,” Eichel said. “There’s obviously more emotion to every game and there’s momentum swings just trying to manage your emotions, continue to play your game, stick with it no matter what happens. There’s sort of some simplicity to it and you get rewarded for that.”
Kolesar also set the tone for the game from the jump, getting into a fight with Brenden Dillon just 49 seconds into the game.