Eichel’s 3-point play helps Golden Knights beat Oilers 4-3 to take 3-2 lead
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Vegas gave up three power play goals on Friday night, but the Golden Knights are one win from the Western Conference Final, largely due to their penalty kill.
Holding on to a two-goal lead and going into the third period with 4:36 from a major penalty against the NHL’s deadliest power play, the Knights conceded just one more goal and stayed ahead to beat the Edmonton Oilers 4- 3 to beat.
“That could have been a big turning point in the game, and we got through it,” said Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy. “Even though we lost the special teams battle by three goals to two, I think we won in my mind.”
Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists as the Knights took a 3-2 lead. Mark Stone, Reilly Smith and Nic Hague also scored, and Jonathan Marchessault tied a franchise playoff record with three assists for the Golden Knights. Adin Hill had 31 saves.
Connor McDavid scored two power play goals for the Oilers, Zach Hyman had a goal and an assist, and Evan Bouchard and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins each had two assists. Stuart Skinner was pulled late in the second period after conceding four goals against 22 shots, and Jack Campbell stopped all nine shots he faced in relief.
Game 6 is on Sunday in Edmonton, Alberta.
Both teams played without key defenders. The Knights were without Alex Pietrangelo, who was suspended for this game for beating Leon Draisaitl by the end of Game 4 on Wednesday.
McDavid and Hyman scored in the first 10 minutes to give Edmonton a 2–1 lead. McDavid’s goal came just 3:02 into the game to continue a trend.
The Oilers have scored within the first 6:46 of every game this season and in all but one of the first four minutes. Vegas responded to the early deficits to come back and win Games 1 and 3, but never recovered in the other two of what became one-sided Oilers wins.
However, the Knights scored three goals in 1:29 of the second period to lead 4–2. That was the fastest three goals scored in a playoff game in Vegas’ six-year history.
“It’s not that we don’t want to score the first goal,” said Cassidy. “Don’t take yourself out of the game in the first period. One goal shouldn’t, while it did the other night in Edmonton.
Two goals essentially fell on the same power play – Stone at 5-on-3 and Smith’s first of these playoffs at a 5-on-4. Hague scored from close range at the blue line shortly after to chase Skinner down, the third time this postseason he’s been pulled in Campbell’s favour.
“Jack came in and did his job,” said Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft. “He gave us the chance to win the game and I thought our team pushed hard in that third period. I thought the power play did its thing straight away. We had plenty of chances to tie it up.”
That five-minute power play came just as it looked like Vegas would bring all the momentum into the third period. Keegan Kolesar then shoved Edmonton’s Mattias Ekholm into the boards with 20.9 seconds remaining. Kolesar was sent off with a game misconduct penalty.
McDavid scored 2:40 into the third period, but that was the lone goal of the power play, allowing the Knights to hold onto a 4–3 lead. That was McDavid’s seventh goal of these playoffs.
“That’s the difference in the game,” Hill said. “You give two and it’s a draw and who knows what happens next? Our guys have done a great job in the gut.”
McDAVID UP FOR LEAGUE MVP
McDavid is one of three finalists for the Hart Memorial Trophy, which goes to the league’s most valuable player. He led the NHL in goals (64), assists (89) and points (153) this season. They were all career highs.
Should he win, it would be McDavid’s second Hart Trophy in three years and third since 2017.
Also forwards David Pastrnak of the Boston Bruins and Matthew Tkachuk of the Florida Panthers are eligible for the Hart.
MARATHON DAY FOR KARLSSON
William Karlsson said he slept about four hours after his wife, Emily, gave birth to a boy early Friday morning. He played almost 19 minutes and had an assist. Karlsson is the sixth new father in the team.
“Maybe we’ll call the guys again in July or August, ‘Let’s get back to work guys,'” Cassidy said. “So that would be something to consider — a summer project.”
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