Knights even up first round series in come-from-behind fashion
Vegas needed two go-ahead goals plus two emotional insurance goals en route to a first round series-tying victory at home.
The No. 1 seeded Knights beat the No. 8 Winnipeg Jets, 5-2, Thursday, April 20 from the T-Mobile Arena to even up their first round series at one game apiece.
“If you look at the scoresheet, our top guys are all over the sheet,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Their top guys were all over the sheet the other night and they won right? So that’s typically how it works and we corrected that as well.”
With the series now tied 1-1, the series now shifts north of the border as the pair of teams will head to Winnipeg for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 is scheduled for Saturday, April 22 from the Canada Life Centre. Puck drop is scheduled for 1 p.m.
“That’s the way it goes in the playoffs,” Cassidy said. “I’m sure they’ll have that mindset up in Winnipeg for Game 3. They’ll want to be hard on [VGK players Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson] because they’re all over the sheet.”
For the second consecutive game, Vegas found itself on the wrong side of the scoreboard to open the night’s scoring. Winnipeg scored the game’s opening goal just under 10 minutes into the first period sneaking it past former Jet Laurent Brossoit, who received the start for a second consecutive game.
Playing from behind, center William Karlsson was able to keep his hot streak going as he knotted the game at one apiece with his second goal in as many playoff games. Dating back to the regular season, Karlsson has picked up five points in the last four games.
“Of course I want to contribute and score again,” he said. “It’s always fun and a great feeling to get us on the board and give energy to the players and also the crowd.”
With the Knights needing it most, center Jack Eichel scored his first career playoff goal after making his playoff debut in Game 1. His goal put the team ahead for the first time in the series at 2-1 with 9:35 left in the second period.
Eichel played seven seasons, one with Vegas, before making his postseason debut this week.
“It felt great,” he said.” [It was] a long time coming, it’s good to contribute [and] it’s a good win by our group there. We stuck with it, won the third period and won the game.”
That Eichel goal netted the home team the lead for 5:36. With a tick under four minutes left in the second period, the Jets tied the game at two, for the second deadlock score of the game.
Brossoit tallied 31 saves for a save percentage of .939 at game’s end.
Stephenson broke the 2-2 tie with a goal off a rebound early in the third period to regain the lead for Vegas. The one-time Stanley Cup Winner now has six career playoff goals in 68 career playoff games.
Stephenson also picked up an assist on the night for a two-point night for the three-time in his playoff career.
While that regained the lead for the Knights, the most emotionally-charged goals were yet to come.
After missing 39 games this regular season due to undergoing two back surgeries in an eight-month span, captain Mark Stone lit the lamp for the first time since Jan. 5. Stone captured the moment at the 6:59-mark of the third and final period before he was swarmed by his VGK teammates.
“You’re lying if you [say] you don’t get energized by a point,” he said. “It’s good to just get that one out of the way. It’s a huge win for us, obviously, I don’t think it was our best for the first 25 minutes but once Karl got the goal I thought we really took over and tilted the ice in our favor.”
The feeling didn’t last long so Stone lit the lamp again before being mobbed a second time by his Vegas comrades. Stone ended the night with three points while picking up his 25th career playoff goal.
“Talk about giving energy right?” Karlsson said. “It was great to see him have a great game, he was huge for us tonight and that’s what we need.”