It didn’t take long for the Golden Knights to find themselves on their heels.
From the 1-0 advantage on, Dallas controlled the game. They ended the first period up 23-12 in shots and finished with the possession advantage. For Vegas, it was their second time being shutout in three games. In the Second Round, Thatcher Demko posed the biggest problem late in the series. Right now, Anton Khudobin is their nemesis.
“They pack it in,” said Golden Knights forward Mark Stone. “They’re a good defensive team. They block a lot of shots and they play as a five-man unit. So you’ve got to get two, three guys in on the forecheck and use your defense as a five-man unit. When you can kind of get them spread out, I think that’ll help us offensively.”
According to Nate Schmidt, Vegas took too long to get into the game and didn’t find the proper energy until it was too late. The Golden Knights got to “their game” eventually, but the Stars’ defensive effort to cling to that 1-0 lead was too strong to break.
Game 1 was also a physical battle with 96 combined hits between the teams. The Stars (700) and Golden Knights (620) are first and third, respectively, in that category this postseason.
“Vancouver defended really well but didn’t have that heaviness that Dallas has,” said Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer. “We know now what we’re dealing with, and it’s on us to respond to that. This is going to be a different series, and we’re going to have to get our head around that and find a way to create offense.”
Per Natural Stat Trick, the Stars created 23 even strength scoring chances to the Golden Knights’ 12 in Game 1. That’s a change from the end of Vegas’ series against the Canucks where the opportunities were there, they just couldn’t finish. If Dallas is able to replicate their game from Sunday night, the Golden Knights will have to figure out a different approach in order to find success in the series.
“It’s a much different look, but our team has been able to win a multitude of ways throughout [these playoffs] and throughout the last couple years,” said Schmidt. “And so we know that we have to be a lot better from the start of the game.”
You can watch Game 2 of Golden Knights-Stars Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app. (livestream)