When the Vegas Golden Knights are playing at their best they can be an absolutely terrifying team. Smothering defensively, dominant on the puck, and just grinding opponents down. They did not finish first in the league in goals against during the regular season by accident.
All of that was on display during the final two periods of their 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 3 of their First Round Series on Thursday night.
The Golden Knights scored five consecutive goals to overcome an early two-goal deficit to take a 2-1 lead in the series.
The turning point in this game came late in the first period when the Wild appeared to score a goal that would have given them a 3-0 lead thanks to a sensational start. But Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer was successful in his offside challenge, taking that goal off the board. If that goal was allowed to stand who knows what direction the game takes from that point on. But it seemed to give the Golden Knights life and from that point on they completely tilted the ice in their favor.
It was not only that they completely shut Minnesota down. They never gave Minnesota a chance to do anything.
Vegas held a 36-9 shots advantage over the second and third periods, and limited the Wild to just 16 shots on goal for the entire game. It is difficult, almost impossible, to make a Stanley Cup Playoff game that one-sided territorially. But the Golden Knights managed to do it and never let up, even as they protected their lead in the third period.
Vegas has allowed just four goals in the first three games of the series as Marc-Andre Fleury has put on a goaltending clinic so far. He was not challenged much on Thursday after the first period.
Minnesota’s Cam Talbot had nearly matched him save-for-save through the first two games, but Vegas was finally able to break through on Thursday night.
If they allow the Golden Knights to own the puck and dictate the pace of play the way they did over the second and third periods on Thursday it will not be the only time they break through in this series.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS VS. WILD (Golden Knights lead series 2-1) – series livestream link
Game 1: Wild 1, Golden Knights 0 (OT)
Game 2: Golden Knights 3, Wild 1
Thursday, May 20: Golden Knights 5, Wild 2
Saturday, May 22: Golden Knights at Wild, 8 p.m. ET (NBC)
Monday, May 24: Wild at Golden Knights TBD
*Wednesday, May 26: Golden Knights at Wild TBD
*Friday, May 28: Golden Knights TBD