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Howden delivers in overtime as Vegas takes series opener

Vegas’ Brett Howden scored a minute and 35 seconds into the overtime period Friday night to give the Golden Knights the Game 1 victory, taking a 1-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals against the Dallas Stars.

Vegas’ depth, a storyline throughout this postseason, was displayed Friday night again with another unlikely hero in Howden netting the game-winner.

It marked the second overtime-winning goal in the playoffs for the Golden Knights, with the other coming courtesy of Michael Amadio in Game 3 of the first round vs Winnipeg.

“It can’t always be the stars,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s what’s been good about our team. We’ve had different people step up in key moments.”

Two more of those depth contributors were right-winger Keegan Kolesar and center Teddy Blueger, who combined to put in Vegas’ third goal of the game to regain the lead in the third period.

Kolesar took a big hit as he crashed the net to set up the play, and left the puck for Blueger who put it by Dallas goaltender Jake Oettinger and later acknowledged Kolesar’s heavy contribution to the goal.

“You guys should really be interviewing [Kolesar],” Blueger said in his postgame media availability. “He did all the work.”

As much as depth was a key factor in Game 1, Vegas still needed something from its stars. That production came from none other than William Karlsson, who scored the first two goals of the game for the Golden Knights and increased his postseason goal output to seven, the most on the team.

“There’s a lot of little things that go into his game,” Cassidy said. “I’m happy to see him get rewarded [by] scoring. He’s going to areas where you’re going to find pucks, in the dirty areas, and he’s still able to play solid defense and work his way out of those areas.”

Similar to that Game 3 in Winnipeg, Vegas was unable to maintain a late lead to close things out in regulation. While Cassidy was pleased with his group’s effort in overtime, maintaining those types of leads is something the team will continue to work on.

“We’ll enjoy the fact that we won and that we do keep responding [in overtime],” Cassidy said. “We’ll just keep working on some of the situations that come up for us if we’re not able to close out a game.”

One thing that the Golden Knights were in agreement on was their relief in getting the win in short order. Just two nights ago, the Florida Panthers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes in four overtimes to win Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, and that type of marathon was on some people’s minds after regulation.

“I said ‘Let’s get this over with early so everyone can go home tonight’” Cassidy joked in his postgame press conference.”

“We got the job done quick in overtime,” goaltender Adin Hill said after the game. “[We] had a little scare after watching the other game last night.”

Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith even remarked on the Fox Sports Las Vegas radio broadcast after regulation that “We don't want it to go into four overtimes, so let's get this finished pretty quickly."

It was a quick finish indeed. The winning goal 95 seconds into overtime came on the first shot of the extra period by either side. This is after both Oettinger and Hill stopped 33 of 36 shots faced in regulation.

The Golden Knights and Stars now prepare for Game 2 from T-Mobile Arena on Sunday at 12:00 p.m. While they’ve taken the time to celebrate their Game 1 triumph, it’s right back to work for Vegas on the next task at hand, which is Sunday’s Game 2.

“Tonight is one for the books too, it’s pretty special,” Howden said. “Saying that in all of this, you’re feeling high right now, but we’ve done a good job of staying even keel and I think that’s the biggest thing is that it’s only one game and we’ve just got to be ready to go for the next game.”


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