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Golden Knights recap: Talented defenseman breaks out in win

Updated June 4, 2023 - 7:11 am

At a glance

Knights lead series 1-0

Game 1 — Knights 5, Panthers 2

Game 2 — 5 p.m. Monday, T-Mobile Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)

Game 3 — 5 p.m. Thursday, FLA Live Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)

Game 4 — 5 p.m. Saturday, FLA Live Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)

Game 5 — 5 p.m. June 13, T-Mobile Arena (TNT, truTV)

Game 6 — 5 p.m. June 16, FLA Live Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)

Game 7 — 5 p.m. June 19, T-Mobile Arena (TNT, TBS, truTV)

RJ’s three stars

3. Knights goaltender Adin Hill — Hill gets the nod over defenseman Zach Whitecloud, who had the game-winning goal and four blocked shots.

Hill continued his outstanding postseason with 33 saves on 35 shots, including several spectacular stops that kept the Knights in the game in the first two periods.

He got help from the posts, but his .941 save percentage was no fluke. He outdueled Sergei Bobrovsky, who entered the game as a favorite to win the Conn Smythe Award.

2. Knights forward Mark Stone — The captain created several big chances, generating a team-high seven shots on goal and turning in his usual stellar defensive effort.

He also scored an insurance goal for the Knights in the third period that showcased his best attributes. Stone helped keep the puck in the zone and then knocked down an attempted outlet pass and controlled the puck at his feet before making a move and firing it past Bobrovsky to put the Knights ahead 4-2 with 6:19 remaining.

1. Knights defenseman Shea Theodore — The talented defenseman needed a big game after struggling through much of the postseason, and he delivered in a huge way.

Theodore juked his way to open ice and fired a shot from the blue line to the back of the net. The goal was his first of the playoffs.

Theodore also had his eighth assist of the postseason on a first-period goal by Jonathan Marchessault that tied the game 1-1.

The Knights hope it can be the start of a bounce-back series for Theodore, who can be a true playmaker when he’s at his best.

Key play

Adin Hill’s save on Nick Cousins at 0:50 of the second period

Cousins, a former Knight, appeared to think he had a tap-in goal after the puck came to him right in front of the net with Hill drifting away to his left.

That might have made Cousins finesse his shot a bit too much, which allowed Hill to somehow fully extend his arm back and get the paddle of his stick on the shot to keep the game tied.

Key stat

9 — The Knights fell behind 1-0 in the first period before rallying for the win.

It was the ninth time this postseason they have won a game in which they trailed.

Only the 2022 Avalanche and 2009 Penguins have exceeded that total since 1980, with each accomplishing the feat 10 times.

Both of those teams won the Stanley Cup.

Knights quotable

“That’s an unreal save, right? It’s a game-changer because then you get (a goal) at the other end. You need those saves at key moments. We didn’t play our best game in front of him. I’m the first to admit that, and sometimes, Game 1s go like that. We eventually found a rhythm and were able to score some goals for him, so he didn’t have to be perfect by any means. That was a big save. The guys get excited to see that for obvious reasons. I don’t know what it does to (the Panthers), but I know for us, it picks us up.”

— Coach Bruce Cassidy, on Hill’s save

Panthers quotable

“Well (expletive), it was tough. On the graduation of tough, from root canal to lumpy oatmeal, it was closer to the root canal side of toughness.”

— Coach Paul Maurice, on the defensive zone turnover by Matthew Tkachuk that led to Stone’s third period goal.

Adam Hill Review-Journal

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