LAS VEGAS — Vegas gave up three power-play goals Friday night, but the Golden Knights are one victory from the Western Conference Final largely because of their penalty kill.
Clinging to a two-goal lead and entering the third period facing 4:36 of a major penalty against the NHL’s most lethal power play, the Knights gave up just one more goal and remained in front to beat the Edmonton Oilers 4-3.
“That could’ve been a turning point in the game big time, and we got through it,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Even though we lost the special teams battle three goals to two, I think in our minds we won.”
Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists as the Knights took a 3-2 series lead. Mark Stone, Reilly Smith and Nic Hague also scored, and Jonathan Marchessault tied a franchise playoff record with three assists for the Golden Knights. Adin Hill had 31 saves.
Connor McDavid scored two power-play goals for the Oilers, Zach Hyman had a goal and an assist and Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each totaled two assists. Stuart Skinner was pulled late in the second period after giving up four goals on 22 shots, and Jack Campbell stopped all nine shots he faced in relief.
Game 6 is on Sunday at Edmonton, Alberta.
Both teams played without key defensemen. The Knights were without Alex Pietrangelo, who was suspended for this game for slashing Leon Draisaitl toward the end of Wednesday’s Game 4. Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse sat after he was suspended for instigator and misconduct penalties in the same game.
McDavid and Hyman scored in the first 10 minutes to give Edmonton a 2-1 lead. McDavid’s goal occurred just 3:02 into the game to continue a trend.
The Oilers have scored within the first 6:46 in each game this season and in the first four minutes all but once. Vegas responded to the early deficits to come back and win Games 1 and 3, but never recovered in the other two of what became one-sided Oilers victories.
The Knights, however, scored three goals in 1:29 of the second period to surge in front 4-2. That was the fastest three goals in a playoff game in Vegas’ six-year history.
“It’s not like we don’t want to score the first goal,” Cassidy said. “Don’t take yourself out the game in the first period. One goal shouldn’t do that, whereas the other night in Edmonton, it did.”
Two goals came on essentially the same power play – Stone at 5-on-3 and Smith’s first of this playoffs on a 5-on-4. Hague soon after scored from near the blue line to chase Skinner, the third time this postseason he has been pulled in favor of Campbell.
“Jack came in and did his job,” Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft said. “He gave us a chance to win the game, and I thought our team pushed hard in that third period. I thought that the power play did its thing right off the bat. We had numerous chances to tie it up.”
That five-minute power play came just when it appeared Vegas would take all the momentum into the third period. Keegan Kolesar then shoved Edmonton’s Mattias Ekholm into the boards with 20.9 seconds left. Kolesar was sent off with a game misconduct penalty.
McDavid scored 2:40 into the third period, but that was the only goal of the power play, allowing the Knights to remain ahead at 4-3. That was McDavid’s seventh goal of this playoffs.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Hill said. “You give two there and and it’s a tie game and who knows what happens from there? Our guys did a great job bearing down.”
McDAVID UP FOR LEAGUE MVP
McDavid is one of three finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, which goes to the league’s most valuable player. He led the NHL in goals (64), assists (89) and points (153) this season. All were career highs.
Should he win, it would be McDavid’s second Hart Trophy in three years and third since 2017.
Also up for the Hart are forwards David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins and Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers.
MARATHON DAY FOR KARLSSON
William Karlsson said he slept about four hours after his wife, Emily, gave birth to a boy early Friday morning. He played nearly 19 minutes and had an assist. Karlsson is the sixth new father on the team.
“We may be calling the guys again in July or August, ‘Let’s get back to work fellas,'” Cassidy said. “So that would be something to consider – a summer project.”