Knights playing ‘hero’ role will now enter LA as villains

The pressure to win sat squarely on the shoulders of those wearing home sweaters, the ones for which an announced crowd of 18,588 screamed so loudly and passionately, the ones who were facing an opponent without one of its most critical pieces.

The ones who can’t get enough of their team.

Don’t kid yourself — leading a best-of-seven Western Conference playoff series after one game didn’t in any way reduce stress on the Golden Knights to extend their advantage.

That they did Friday night can’t be overstated for its importance.

This. Was. Enormous.

Vegas ultimately overcame one of the better goaltending performances you will find this time of year, and that’s saying something for this time of year, beating the Kings 2-1 in two overtimes at T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights lead the series 2-0 because Erik Haula scored at 15:22 of the second OT, with things now shifting to Staples Center in Los Angeles for Game 3 on Sunday and 4 on Tuesday, where Vegas will for the first time as a franchise feel the reality of being a playoff villain in someone else’s house.

Put it this way: The Knights set a team record for attendance in each of the first two games.

There won’t be so many faces smiling in their direction the next two.

Vegas might have scripted a Hollywood story this season, but in no way will it be welcomed in a congenial manner.

“Obviously it was a big win, and in the overall picture, it’s huge going back to their rink, which is tough to play in,” said Knights forward James Neal, who assisted on Haula’s game winner. “We’re going to look for them to be even better and really pushing to get a home win. We’ll get our rest and be ready.”

The Kings were much better in Game 2 than the previous outing and they were always going to be, because even when it’s early in a series, a small amount of desperation can still be a pretty formidable source of motivation.

They were without three of their top defensemen Friday, including the league’s best in Drew Doughty, suspended for the game following a hit on William Carrier of the Knights in Wednesday’s opener.

Jake Muzzin and Derek Forbort also remained out for the Kings. Los Angeles wasn’t near at full strength.

But pre-series thoughts about how terrific the goaltending would be were not in any sense exaggerated, as Marc-Andre Fleury of the Knights and Jonathan Quick of the Kings have for 155-plus minutes now been even better than advertised.

Quick is very much a two-time Stanley Cup champion, whose performance without top names in front of him Friday was beyond something.

He stopped 54 of 56 shots.

The Kings, for that matter, were as good defensively as anyone could have imagined given their depleted lineup.

Fleury, owner of three rings, has been just as superb in net, facing 26 fewer shots than Quick in Game 2 and yet just as active and athletic and stingy when needed most.

This is goaltending at its absolute finest level.

Vegas out-shot Los Angeles nearly 2-to-1.

It had all sorts of chances if not for the brilliance of Quick.

The Knights did solve a certain drought against the Kings this season at 14:47 of the first period, when Alex Tuch jammed home a rebound off the boards for a 1-0 lead. It was the first Vegas power play score against Los Angeles this season in 17 tries.

The Kings would get their own power-play goal — and first score against Fleury in nearly 95 minutes of the series — on a Paul LaDue wrister from the point.

From there, fingernails of 18,000-plus were gnawed to the bone, the importance of Vegas earning a 2-0 advantage in the series not lost on anyone in the building.

It ended when Haula beat Quick, sending things to the land of movie stars and sandy beaches and all sorts of dreams.

The pressure was on Vegas to hold serve.

It handled such business and grasped hold of this series.

“It still hasn’t sunk in, really,” Tuch said. “I feel like I have to go out there and play another period.”

Translation: You can’t overstate the importance of such a win.

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Vegas Fans Show their Love at Fan Fest
Bryan Salmond is on the red carpet at the downtown Las Vegas Events Center as the 2018-2019 Golden Knights show up for Fan Fest.
Golden Edge: Knights Back From Colorado
Golden Knights reporters Adam Hill and Ben Gotz talk about Knights preseason training camp and how Max Pacioretty is fitting in with the Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — September 17, 2018
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Golden Edge: Knights Win First Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, David Schoen, Ben Gotz and Adam hill recap the Golden Knights first preseason game win against the Arizona Coyotes.
Golden Edge: First Practice
Adam Hill and David Schoen discuss the first day of practice for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Presser Max Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty speaks about his first impressions coming to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights' fans about recent roster changes.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Rookies Faceoff Against The Sharks Good
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond breaks down the 5-4 loss the Golden Knights rookies had against the San Jose Sharks.
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Golden Edge: Deryk Engelland Rides With Kurt Busch
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond heads to city national arena and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to see Kurt Busch attempt to learn how to play hockey, and Deryk Engelland hop in a race car.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
Golden Edge: Floor Hockey Clinic
Bryan Salmond travels to the Paradise Recreational Center for the Las Vegas Golden Knights floor hockey clinic with special guest Golden Knights defenseman and Mark Messier Leadership Award winner Deryk Engelland.
Golden Edge: Off Season Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the Knights free angency and signing Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury on his three-year extension: To stay in Vegas a long time was big
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he's glad he'll be a part of the team for a long time. Fleury spoke about signing a three-year contract extension at a news conference at the City National Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, July 5
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Golden Edge: Free Agency Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen go over the latest free agency news from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Knights Host Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights second day of scrimmage at City National Arena.
Golden Edge: Prospects Prepare For Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights getting ready to participate in a scrimmage for the next few days.
Golden Edge: Previous Prospects Fight For Spot
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over day two of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Edge: One-On-One With Reid Duke
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interviews Golden Knights prospect Reid Duke.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Wednesday, June 27
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Development Camp
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights development camp and how the prospects are looking to improve their game.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 26, 2018
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights Perron and Neal were key contributors on the second line for the Knights, helping the expansion team to the Pacific Division and Western Conference championships. Perron’s agent, Allan Walsh, told the Review-Journal on Sunday that the Knights have not made a new contract offer since the season ended. Neal turned down a five-year, $25 million offer from the Knights at the trade deadline, according to the Calgary Sun.
Golden Edge 2018 NHL Draft Recap
Bryan Salmond Recaps The Vegas Golden Knights 2018 Draft picks Rounds 2-7.
Golden Edge : NHL Draft Round 1
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the first round of the NHL Draft picks and the rumors surrounding the Knights recruiting Ilya Kovalchuk.
Golden Knights 2018 NHL Draft Preview
Golden Edge video host Bryan Salmond provides a preview heading into the 2018 NHL Draft and Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee discusses how the team has prepared for it.
Golden Knights Release Schedule For 2018-19 NHL Season
Golden Knights release schedule for 2018-19 NHL season. The Golden Knights will play five of their first six games on the road. The Knights are at Washington on Oct. 10 in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final and face Pittsburgh the following night. The NHL previously announced the Knights open the season at home Oct. 4 against Philadelphia.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like