The Vegas Golden Knights never doubted their ability to stand up to the Colorado Avalanche and eventually defeat them.
That confidence did not abate after a 7-1 loss in Game 1 of the second round on Monday. The Golden Knights believed it in Game 2 on Wednesday at Ball Arena in Denver, despite a 3-2 overtime loss that left them 2-0 behind in a four-of-seven series.
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“After Game 1, we wanted to prove we can stand up to them, and I think we did that tonight,” said Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer. “You have to do the same thing in Game 3. You have to take things one game at a time. This series is far from over. «
Game 3 is Friday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas (10 p.m. ET; TVAS, CBC, SN, NBCSN).
« Now we are going home in front of 18,000 supporters, » said the captain. Mark Stone. “We’re going to take that at home and come back here with a tied series for Game 5.
“You don’t have to be too nervous until you bow at home. «
These are not empty words from DeBoer and Stone. It’s not about the team’s coach and captain trying to cheer up the troops after a painful loss that could make the team doubt themselves.
It is not provocation or ignorance either. This is a real conviction fueled by their play in Game 2.
“I think we deserved better,” added DeBoer.
The same can’t be said for Game 1, but they played it 48 hours after Game 7 of the first round against the Minnesota Wild and they had traveled during that 48 hour window. Meanwhile, the Avalanche was rested and waiting, eager to get back into action after sweeping the St. Louis Blues in the first round and enjoying seven days off.
It was the recipe for disaster for Vegas.
“We all knew it wasn’t us in Game 1. It wasn’t our style of play,” said goaltender Marc-André Fleury, who did not play in the first game.
Fleury, who is a finalist for the Vézina trophy, was back in goal for the second duel. The Golden Knights were also back, but not in the first period, as the Avalanche took advantage of four power plays and scored on one of them. Vegas trailed 2-1 after the first period.
“We didn’t have a good start, but we got the better of it as the game progressed,” said Stone.
The Golden Knights outscored the Avalanche 32-14 in shots after the first period. They slowed them down in the neutral zone, forcing them to send the puck to the back of the territory rather than using their speed to enter the Vegas zone.
Vegas saw three shots hit a post in the third period.
“We cared more about our game than them,” Stone said. We played really good hockey. «
They were unable to score the deciding goal in regulation to avoid what happened in overtime. A penalty for the attacker’s stick Reilly smith which the Golden Knights disagreed with led to the striker’s winning net Mikko Rantanen on the power play at 2:07.
Smith lost his stick to Rantanen.
“It’s a situation where the player holding the stick has a responsibility,” Stone said. It’s a battle for the puck, and both players are trying to get it and make some space. But we have to sell a power play when they award such a penalty. «
It was a tough end to swallow, but that doesn’t stop the Golden Knights from believing that they are still in the game and that coming from behind isn’t an impossible challenge, even if the The team they face is undefeated in the playoffs (6-0) and won the Presidents’ trophy with the best record in the regular season.
“I’m sure a number of players on our team have found themselves in this situation before. I’ve been there too, but that’s not important, said Fleury. If we continue to play like tonight, we are hopeful that we can return to this series. «