NHL Bubble Wrap: Lehner shuts out Stars, stays hot for Golden Knights

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  • Game 2 put the Golden Knights we expected on display, and that resulted in a tied 2020 Western Conference Final with the Stars.
  • Robin Lehner stayed hot for the Golden Knights, earning his fourth shutout of the postseason.
  • Check out some Stunning NHL Numbers from the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Game 2: Golden Knights 3, Stars 0 (Series tied 1-1)

Now, this looked more like it — more like the Golden Knights.

Following an improved effort in the first period, the Vegas Golden Knights took over the second period of Game 2, scoring three times against the Stars. Vegas fired 19 shots on goal during that middle frame alone. Vegas looked dangerous at every level, including on the power play. It seemed like the Dallas Stars might get a lifeline when a would-be 3-0 goal was called back on goalie interference. Instead, the Golden Knights scored a prettier 3-0 tally to make up that edge.

From there, the Stars never really tested Robin Lehner. So far, the 2020 Western Conference Final has been the story of two very different games, with a contest apiece working to the Stars’ and Golden Knights’ advantage.

[NBC 2020 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]

Three Stars

1. Robin Lehner, Vegas Golden Knights

Look, Lehner didn’t need to work that hard. That was especially true when the Golden Knights were surging during the second period.

When the smoke cleared and the flamingos fell, Lehner ended up with a 24-save shutout. He was already coming off of an even lighter shutout (14 saves) to close out the Canucks in a Game 7, making it harder and harder to manufacture any drama with Marc-Andre Fleury.

This puts Lehner at four shutouts during the Golden Knights run in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Whether something interesting works out to keep Lehner with Vegas or he hits the free agent market, it’s hard to imagine Lehner failing to gain the long-term security he craves in free agency.

2. Paul Stastny, Golden Knights

Even when they were scoring against Demko, Shea Theodore was doing most of the damage. So, the great news is that the Golden Knights’ offense exploding, and multiple forwards were involved. That does make it tougher to pick out specific standouts for the three stars, though. It was very much a team effort.

Stastny stands out as having the best night. Thanks to a great pass by Max Pacioretty, Stastny scored the game-winner. In addition to the GWG, Stastny assisted on the 2-0 power-play goal.

3. Zach Whitecloud, Golden Knights

Honestly, you could give Nicolas Roy, Chandler Stephenson, and Tomas Nosek a collective star for that beautiful 3-0 goal. But they didn’t have the strongest overall games, generally speaking.

You know whose numbers pop out when you look at underlying stats at Natural Stat Trick, though? Whitecloud. His possession numbers were bonkers (including 12 shots for and just one shot against at even-strength), and Whitecloud played a role in keeping Tyler Seguin and Denis Gurianov quiet in Game 2.

There’s some evidence that Whitecloud is another sneaky-good Golden Knights defenseman, by the way. Also, if you’re bored, refer to him as “White Claw” for a cheap chuckle.

Golden Knights – Stars Game 2 highlights:

No doubt, these highlights are heavy on the second period:

Golden Knights – Stars Game 2 factoids

  • According to “Stats by STATS,” the Golden Knights are the first team in NHL history to alternate shutouts for four consecutive games. In addition to that, the NHL notes that it’s the first time during the modern era (since 1943-44) that a Conference Final or semifinal round began with each team earning a shutout during the first two games.
  • Also via NHL.com: Robin Lehner’s personal shutout streak reached 131:44. Currently, the Golden Knights’ franchise record stands at 144:04 (set by Marc-Andre Fleury in 2018).
  • Joining Dan Vladar of the Bruins, Jake Oettinger of the Stars made his NHL debut during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. According to Sportsnet Stats, this is the first time two different goalies made their NHL debuts during the same postseason since 1937.

WEDNESDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE

Game 2: Islanders vs. Lightning (TB leads 1-0) – 8 p.m. ET, NBCSN (livestream)

 

MORE STANLEY CUP COVERAGE:
• Stanley Cup Playoffs Conference Final schedule

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.