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Graney: Goaltender goes to another level to give Knights 2-0 lead

DALLAS — You have to imagine Golden Knights goalie Logan Thompson awoke Tuesday morning feeling pretty good about himself.

He had the evening before won the first playoff game of his NHL career. The nerves were quelled. The butterflies were gone.

Imagine how Thompson feels now.

He was stellar Wednesday night, and for it the Knights have a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series against the Dallas Stars.

And for it the Knights prevailed 3-1 before a sold-out and — as you can imagine — incredibly unhappy 18,532 at American Airlines Center.

What it means: The Knights won two road playoff games against the Western Conference’s top seed to open this series and now return home for Games 3 and 4.

What it means: The series isn’t over, but it’s a long way back for Dallas.

Like from Summerlin to Los Angeles long. Maybe even farther.

Thompson shuts door

Bruce Cassidy said earlier in the week he wasn’t sure this would be a goalie series, that those in net wouldn’t necessarily decide which team moved on and which went on vacation.

The Knights’ coach might have to change that thought.

Thompson stopped all but one of 21 shots Wednesday and make some acrobatic saves at that to keep the Stars just enough away. He was as good as those in front of him. And they were really good.

Thompson was more solid than great in Monday’s 4-3 victory. He was more of the latter this time.

“We know how to win,” Thompson said. “We did it all last year. It’s just the experience of our group coming through and shutting things down.

“The first game was a little too close for my liking, but I settled in and it was fun. It’s definitely not over. We just have to regroup and refocus and get ready for Game 3.”

So you knew this was going to happen: The Stars pushed like nobody’s business to start. They dominated possession. They played as you might expect in this scenario — a bit desperate.

But here’s the thing — the Knights reacted calmly to all of it. Cleared the puck out of their zone. Didn’t allow such aggression by the Stars to overcome them in front of Thompson.

Just stayed with it. Just didn’t crumble. Just the opposite.

Here’s another significant point: They answered adversity almost immediately.

Dallas took a 1-0 lead via a power-play goal from Jason Robertson, but fewer than two minutes later, Jonathan Marchessault tied things off a pass from Jack Eichel.

More importantly, it allowed the Knights to escape a first period 1-1 in what could (should?) have been a sure deficit.

But this was the sort of thing the Knights had expected. The kind of game they envisioned to a man. The Stars were going to do anything possible not to go down 2-0 in the series heading to T-Mobile Arena.

Heading to one of the league’s most difficult rinks in which to win for opponents.

Physical? There wasn’t a Knight in sight a Dallas player didn’t try and hit. So much for the feeling-out portion of things in Game 1. This was by far more playoff hockey. And it was much better by both teams than Monday’s opener.

Don’t overload ’em

“You’re always looking ahead at certain things,” Cassidy said. “One of the things I’ve learned over the years is you can be overprepared for a playoff series. You give players all this information, and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, can we just play hockey here?’ Hopefully, we don’t get caught by any surprises. You can overload players.”

He hasn’t in the least. Has pushed all the right buttons. Made the correct decision to go with Thompson in net for the series.

For it, his team has a deserved 2-0 lead.

Yeah — from Summerlin to Los Angeles.

Ed Graney, a Sigma Delta Chi Award winner for sports column writing, can be reached at egraney@reviewjournal.com. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 7 to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on X.

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