Last week on the Knightly Recap, the Vegas Golden Knights finished off their regular season against the Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks winning one of two games. Unfortunately, they didn’t win their first President’s Trophy in franchise history. The Avalanche broke the tiebreaker for first overall in both the Honda West Division and league.
This week on the Knightly Recap, the Golden Knights start their quest to the Stanley Cup as they face the Minnesota Wild in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Without further due, welcome to week 19 and the start of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs Edition of the Knightly Recap.
Game 1: May 16 vs. Minnesota Wild
A Goaltender Duel
This first game of the seven game series between both teams showcased brilliant goaltending. Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Wild goaltender Cam Talbot made save after save that kept the game scoreless through 60 minutes of play.
nah ah ah! not today! pic.twitter.com/yU8lu3EOOa
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 16, 2021
Fleury stopped 29 out of 30 shots while Talbot saved all 42 Golden Knights shots en route to the Wild taking game one. The score might’ve been worse had Fleury and Talbot not played the way they did. This duel also sets the tone of how both teams are going to play throughout this series.
An Unlucky Deflection
Because of the brilliant goaltending by both Fleury and Talbot, game one went into overtime. The game had been close throughout with momentum shifting both ways during the second and third periods.
However, it would be Wild forward Joel Eriksson Ek who scored the overtime game winning goal thanks in part to an unlucky Golden Knights deflection from defenseman Alec Martinez.
Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo was pressured from a backcheck that led into a turnover which put Martinez in a precarious position to try and block Eriksson Ek’s shot.
Final score: 1-0 MIN
Goal scorers: MIN – Joel Eriksson Ek (3:20 OT)
Series: 1-0 MIN
Game 2: May 18 vs. Minnesota Wild
Another Unlucky Deflection
Just like last game, the Wild scored off a deflection from a Golden Knights player. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba shot from just below the blue line which then got deflected by Golden Knights Nic Hague.
The Comeback Kings Are Back
The Golden Knights had come back and won in a few games during the regular season and this game was no different. Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault scored 30 seconds after Dumba’s goal to tie the game. Marchessault’s goal also marks the first Golden Knights goal this series.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 19, 2021
From there, the Golden Knights kept the pressure on as forward Alex Tuch scored the go-ahead goal with 2:41 left in the second period. Tuch’s goal also gave the Golden Knights their first lead of the series. Also, Tuch scored on a power play just before a minute left into the third period to give the Golden Knights the 3-1 victory.
Final score: 3-1 VGK
Goal scorers: MIN – Matt Dumba (12:07 2nd Period)
VGK – Jonathan Marchessault (12:25 2nd Period), Alex Tuch (17:19 2nd Period, 19:07 3rd Period)
Game 3: May 20 at Minnesota Wild
A Wild Start in Minnesota
After losing game 2, the Wild knew they had to put more pressure on the Golden Knights in order to dictate the pace of the game. And just like in the first two games, the Wild scored the first goal once again. Eriksson Ek and Wild forward Ryan Hartman were the goal scorers for the Wild.
All seemed to go the Wild’s way by just holding the Golden Knights to only four shots on goal during the first period. They also were the quicker team by getting to the loose puck faster and moving the puck around cleaner and smoother.
The Goal That Never Was
Eriksson Ek has had the hot hand for the Wild this series so far. He scored twice during the first period but his second goal was called back. Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer got a call from Golden Knights video coach Tommy Cruz to challenge for offsides.
After video review, the play was deemed offside prior to Eriksson Ek’s goal. Wild forward Kevin Fiala was a step too early with one of his skates over the blue line before the puck entered the zone.
The Comeback Kings Are Back Once Again
Similarly to game 2, the Golden Knights were able to find a way to come back into this game. It started with Golden Knights captain Mark Stone who scored during the second period. Stone’s goal was followed up by forwards Patrick Brown and Reilly Smith as the period went along.
biiiiiig exhale 🙂 pic.twitter.com/3c2WMRdd8T
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 21, 2021
The Golden Knights were able to build momentum during the second period after the successful offside challenge made in the first period. And because of that, they were able to implement their game. Also, the momentum shifted back to them allowing them to score five unanswered goals including the three goals in the second period.
Stone and Golden Knights forward William Karlsson scored the final two goals giving Vegas the 5-2 victory and 2-1 series lead.
Final score 5-2 VGK
Goal scorers: MIN – Ryan Hartman (2:16 1st Period), Joel Eriksson Ek (8:30 1st Period)
VGK – Mark Stone (8:39 2nd Period, 19:01 3rd Period), Patrick Brown (15:!9 2nd Period), Reilly Smith (17:33 2nd Period), William Karlsson (17:36 3rd Period)
Series: 2-1 VGK
Game 4: May 22 at Minnesota Wild
The Goal That Never Was Part 2
After having the hot hand, Eriksson Ek can’t seem to get a goal anymore. Last game, the goal was waived off due to offsides. This game, it was goaltender interference from Wild forward Marcus Foligno.
And just like last game, DeBoer won another coach’s challenge after video replay showed that Foligno’s skates were on the blue crease preventing Fleury from playing his position.
Best Game This Series
Simply put, this was the best game the Golden Knights had played this series so far. The 5-2 come-from-behind win was great too. But the way the Golden Knights were able to control the game from start to finish is something that we haven’t seen in these playoffs thus far.
ENORMOUS mood. pic.twitter.com/QaLmsf70RX
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) May 23, 2021
The Golden Knights kept pressuring the Wild in all three zones of the ice whether it was goal scoring or forcing turnovers. Vegas was everywhere on the ice despite the Wild having outshot them 35-18 in the game.
A Fleury of Saves in Minnesota
Fleury was also great in net given the fact that he and Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner had been on a rotational system during the regular season. The three time Stanley Cup champion made crucial saves with some help from Pietrangelo and Roy. Both skaters were able to bail out Fleury in the couple of times he was out of position.
Also, Fleury’s best showing was during the second period when Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud was assessed a double minor penalty for a high stick to Wild forward Zach Parise.
During the four minute penalty kill, Fleury was able to track where the puck was as he made crucial saves that would’ve given the Wild a much needed confidence booster.
Flower Continuing to Do G.O.A.T. Things
With this win, Fleury notches his first shutout in these playoffs and 16th career Stanley Cup Playoffs shutout. Fleury also ties Curtis Joseph for 3rd in all time Stanley Cup Playoff wins. The Vezina Trophy favorite is behind Patrick Roy with 23 shutouts and Martin Brodeur with 24.
This game also marked Fleury’s 150th career Stanley Cup Playoffs game tying Grant Fuhr for fourth most playoff games. Roy, Brodeur and Ed Belfour are all ahead of Fleury.
Final score: 4-0 VGK
Goal scorers: MIN – None
VGK – Nicolas Roy (10:37 1st Period, 18:32 3rd Period), Alex Tuch (9:08 2nd Period), Mark Stone (13:41 2nd Period)
Series: 3-1 VGK
Up Next on the Knightly Recap
On the next Knightly Recap, the Golden Knights head back home for game 5 with a 3-1 series lead. They can close out the series with a win to advance to the second round for the second year in a row.
On the other hand, the Wild are going to look to push back in order to force a game six back home in St. Paul, MN.
With the way this series has played out, game 5 should be an interesting one to say the very least. The Avalanche is the first team in the division to move on to the second round after sweeping their series against the St. Louis Blues in four games.
So if Vegas wins game 5, then we’re all in for a treat for the second round. The battle between the division’s top two teams in the Golden Knights and Avalanche. Until then, stay tuned for the next Knightly Recap.