In 1980, Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back was released and nothing was ever the same. The concept of the film, for any of those that live under a rock and haven’t seen it, is that the Galactic Empire deals the upstart Rebellion several crushing defeats. First at Hoth when the Empire takes over the secret rebel base, then two losses at Bespin when Luke Skywalker almost dies at Cloud City and Han Solo gets sent off to Jabba the Hutt. Why does any of this matter? Because the upstart Dallas Stars got a taste of the Vegas Golden Knights striking back in Game 2 as they scored three goals and shut out the Stars to even their Western Conference Final series at one game a piece.
The Golden Knights have been pegged as Stanley Cup Contenders from the beginning of this season and the entered the bubble ready to get back to the final and win the cup in their second try in three seasons. The Stars obviously shocked them in game one but you just knew the Knights were going to turn it up in Game 2. Period one was deadlocked with both teams looking good early and having chances but once period two began, the floodgates opened and the Knights began to flex their offensive prowess on the Stars.
Just 4:53 into the second period, the Golden Knights would strike and off a fantastic feed from Max Pacioretty in the corner, Paul Stastny would chip the puck past Anton Khudobin for a 1-0 lead. Not to be understated was the play was Nicolas Roy on the goal as he had the patience to begin the play in the zone. After putting up a doughnut in game one, the Knights big guns needed to come through and they did here. Pacioretty has revitalized himself as a Golden Knight and Stastny came through when Vegas needed it bad.
At 8:24 of the second period, the Golden Knights would strike again, This time, William “Wild Bill” Karlsson would rip a quick wrister past Anton Khudobin on the power-play to give Vegas a 2-0 lead. After silence in game one, the Knights had come alive and were showing the hockey world that they weren’t going to roll over in any sense. Karlsson, off a great feed from none other than Shea Theodore, had broken the game open.
The second period onslaught didn’t stop there as Tomas Nosek would join in on the fun at 14:32 of the period. Nosek would score after a beautiful tic-tac-toe play between him, Nicolas Roy and Chandler Stephenson to put the Golden Knights up 3-0. Nosek is just another one of these guys who has found another gear since joining the Golden Knights and Roy is turning into some player over the course of these playoffs. The Golden Knights owned the second period and it would turn out to be all they needed to grab the win. Robin Lehner would pitch a 24 save shutout and most likely, will start game three.
One notable fact about the third period was that the Stars put in rookie goaltender Jake Oettinger to replace Khudobin. Always nice to see a young kid get his chance on the biggest stage. Game Three is Thursday at 8 PM.
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