Stephenson’s OT thriller gives VGK 2-0 series lead
A minute and 12 seconds into overtime, center Chandler Stephenson became the hero as he scored the game-winning goal Sunday afternoon to win Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals, 3-2, to put the Golden Knights up 2-0 on the Dallas Stars.
“It hasn’t really hit me yet that it happened,” Stephenson said. “It’s cool.”
When asked what he was doing with the game-winning puck, Stephenson said he would give it to his kid to put in their room for their birthday on Monday. This was Stephenson’s first career overtime game winner in the playoffs.
“We need everyone,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We don’t rely on two or three players or the goalie to stand on his head. We needed timely saves, we certainly got that in overtime. We had timely goals, Marchessault got a big one for us and gave us a chance. Different guys can get us going.”
This was the second straight game that VGK has had to win in overtime and the third time this postseason that the team has won a game in overtime, the most in any postseason for the Golden Knights.
“Obviously it wasn’t our best effort,” center Jack Eichel said. “Sometimes, you don’t play your best but you find ways to win and credit to our group tonight for doing that.”
The series now shifts to the American Airlines Center in Dallas, TX for Games 3 and 4 of this best-of-seven series. Game 3 will be Tuesday at 5 p.m. PST and will be broadcasted nationwide on ESPN.
It did not take long for the Stars to strike first Sunday as they scored the game’s first goal less than three minutes into the game. Center Radek Faksa was credited with the goal, making it his second goal of the playoffs. Dallas also scored the first goal in Game 1 and coming into Sunday’s game, the Stars were 8-2 in these playoffs when they scored first.
VGK are now 7-3 when allowing the first goal this postseason.
After giving up the early goal, Vegas goaltender Adin Hill settled in to make some saves down the stretch for the Knights. He finished the game with 26 saves on 28 shots faced for a final save percentage of .929 in the win.
“Tonight, I felt like we didn’t perform for the full 60 minutes like we did in Game 1 but you know what, in that third period, we had that confidence,” Hill said. “It felt like if we stuck to our game and got pucks in deep and we got a few chances and then that last one in. Our group has confidence in each other and I think it showed tonight.”
As we got just past the halfway mark of the first period, VGK captain Mark Stone scored the equalizer to tie the game at one heading into the second period. The goal was Stone’s sixth of the playoffs and came on a 5-on-3 power play chance for the Knights.
This also extended Stone’s point streak at home to seven straight games now with at least a goal or an assist at T-Mobile Arena, the longest home point streak in VGK play history.
Dallas regained the lead in the second period when left-winger Jason Robertson scored on the power play with just over ten minutes to play in the period. This would be the only scoring of the period as the Stars took a 2-1 lead into the third period.
This was Robertson’s fourth goal of the playoffs.
Just when it looked like Dallas was going to win this game 2-1 in regulation, Marchessault put home his sixth goal this postseason with 2:22 left in regulation to tie the game at two.
“It was just part of our game plan,” Marchessault said. “We got a good forecheck to be able to recover, [center Ivan] Barbashev was able to put it down the wall and then Jack as usual is just an amazing player with great vision. He threw it there in the middle and he kind of knew our forecheck routes and I was just passing by so I had to put it in.”