The 7s were lucky in Vegas on Thursday.
The Vegas Golden Knights were the first to win their first-round series and had the longest to prepare for Round 2. Having scored seven goals total in its four-game sweep of the L.A. Kings, Vegas matched that in its 7-0 win against the San Jose Sharks on Thursday. Seven different players scored for the Knights.
Vegas didn’t waste any time when Cody Eakin was camped out in front of Sharks goalie Martin Jones to tip in the first goal 4:31 into the first. Erik Haula followed up 26 seconds later when he picked up a loose puck on a broken play to go up 2-0. And since that wasn’t quick enough, Jonathan Marchessault scored on a wrister from the left circle to make it 3-0 in a span of 91 seconds.
Things didn’t really slow down from there. Midway through the first on the power play, Alex Tuch split four Sharks players and notched the fourth goal in just seven shots for Vegas. Jones and the Sharks gave up four goals total to the Anaheim Ducks in the first round.
When Shea Theodore tipped in a pass from Marchessault 3:28 into the second, San Jose pulled Jones for backup Aaron Dell. Jones stopped just eight of 13 shots. Vegas thought it had a sixth with five seconds left in the second, but an official review determined James Neal directed the puck in with his glove and the no-goal call on the ice was right.
Neal got his redemption in the third period by scoring the final goal for Vegas on a power play that resulted from a five-minute major when Evander Kane crossed-checked Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the face. That was the second goal the Knights scored as a result of Kane’s ejection, which the league will likely review on Friday.
The Golden Knights are now 5-0 in the postseason, with Marc-Andre Fleury earning three shutouts for Vegas.
PENS 3, CAPS 2
It’s a new series, but the same story for the Washington Capitals. After having a two-goal lead, the Caps lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-2 in Game 1 on Thursday.
It didn’t take long for things to get started when Alex Ovechkin found Evgeny Kuznetsov breaking into the zone 17 seconds into the game for the Caps to go up 1-0. After such a quick start, the pace slowed down through the second, with Braden Holtby acting as a wall for Washington.
The third period started much like the first, with Ovi scoring on a 2-on-1 rush from the left circle (of course), grabbing his 100th career playoff point. But much like they did against the Blue Jackets in Round 1, the Caps let up after garnering a 2-0 lead and watched the Pens score three goals in five minutes to swing the momentum.
The Pens shifted into a new gear and the top line of Patric Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel took control of the game in the third. Hornqvist scored first when he tipped in a shot from Justin Schultz. Crosby tied it up a couple minutes later when Ovechkin can’t break up a pass from Guentzel and Crosby one-timed it past Holtby. Guenztel took his turn shortly after, tipping in a shot from Crosby for the game-winning goal.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
The Golden Knights were flying high in the first period and Alex Tuch was not about to let that die off. After Vegas scored three goals in a span of 91 seconds, San Jose gave up two penalties that only surged the Golden Knights even more. With four Sharks draped over him, Tuch skated through all of them, left a little dangle and dazzled with a finish that went straight past Martin Jones.
How many guys does it take to stop Alex Tuch? More than 4, apparently... pic.twitter.com/HdFa5H2OTy
— Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 27, 2018
1. Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK — Fleury didn’t need to be perfect in this game, but he was anyway. Despite having offensive support since the very beginning, Fleury blocked 33 shots, including 17 in the first period alone.
2. Jonathan Marchessault, VGK — Vegas saw goals from seven different players, but Marchessault factored in on three of them with a goal and two assists. Marchessault capped off the three-goal burst early in the game with his first career playoff goal.
3. Jake Guentzel, PIT — Still feeling hot from his five-point night on Sunday, Guentzel tallied three points Thursday, including the go-ahead goal in the third.
In five games during the regular season, the Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators combined for 42 goals. If this stat is any indication of how the series will go, Friday should be a fun start. While the Preds won the Presidents’ Trophy, Winnipeg was second behind them in points in the league, which promises that this will likely be a close series all the way through. Winnipeg looked dominant against Minnesota through the entire first round. But the Predators were exposed a bit by Colorado, often giving up leads early and having to make up for it late in the game. Expect this series to be back-and-forth, and adjust your caffeine intake accordingly.