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3 takeaways from Golden Knights’ Game 3 loss to Panthers

Here are three takeaways from the Golden Knights’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Thursday in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida:

1. One goal not enough

If the Knights have a regret, it might be failing to build more than a one-goal lead against Florida goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.

Despite having a 15-8 advantage in scoring chances and generating 1.71 expected goals in the second period, according to NaturalStatTrick.com, the Knights went to the locker room with a 2-1 lead instead of more.

Defenseman Nic Hague was denied by Bobrovsky’s glove early in the second, and defenseman Brayden McNabb was turned away. Bobrovsky made a desperation save on Brett Howden, who hit the crossbar earlier in the period. Mark Stone also was stopped off the rush.

In the third period, Michael Amadio had a good chance early on, and Ivan Barbashev hit the crossbar with about four minutes remaining. Those missed opportunities to add to the lead came back to haunt the Knights when Matthew Tkachuk scored late in the third period to send the game into overtime.

Bobrovsky rebounded from being pulled in Game 2 with 25 saves and held his team in the game long enough to give the Panthers a chance to rally.

2. Special teams come through

One of the Knights’ biggest weaknesses in the regular season was special teams, as the penalty kill and power play ranked in the bottom half of the NHL. And it wasn’t much better through the first three rounds of the postseason.

But they are clicking at the right time.

For the third straight game, the Knights made Florida pay for its lack of discipline by scoring two power-play goals and also were successful on all five penalty kills.

The Knights continued to unlock Florida’s penalty kill with cross-ice passes, and Jack Eichel set up the second goal when he saucered the puck over two Panthers sticks to Jonathan Marchessault for his 11th goal in the past 10 games.

Stone tied the score at 1 with a tip-in goal in the first period, as the Knights went 2-for-6 with the man advantage. In the series, the Knights are 6-for-17 on the power play, though they couldn’t convert in overtime with a five-on-four.

Meanwhile, Florida’s power play is 0-for-12 against the Knights, who entered the Stanley Cup Final a dreadful 63 percent on the penalty kill.

The best chance for the Panthers came in the third period when Eichel went off for hooking with 12:38 remaining. But the Knights kept Florida to the perimeter and allowed one shot, which came from 33 feet away by Tkachuk.

3. Payback by Knights

Tkachuk dished out a vicious — but clean — open-ice check on Eichel in Game 2. He was on the receiving end in the first period.

Knights forward Keegan Kolesar caught Tkachuk with his head down trying to exit the zone and planted the Panthers standout about six minutes in. Kolesar briefly stood over Tkachuk as if to send a message, and Tkachuk went to the locker room after taking one shift.

Tkachuk returned for the second period, but the hit seemed to render him ineffective for the rest of the game until late in the third period when the puck pinballed onto his stick in front of the net for the tying goal with 2:13 remaining.

Tkachuk finished with a goal and an assist and logged a plus-3 rating. But he was not credited with a hit in 17:53 of ice time, and it will be worth monitoring how physical he can be for the rest of the series.

David Schoen Las Vegas Review-Journal

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