Golden Knights take goaltending situation in stride, down Oilers 5-1 to lead series
EDMONTON — The Vegas Golden Knights weren't rattled by their goaltending carousel spinning once again in Monday's 5-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers to lead their playoff series 2-1.
The Knights started five different goaltenders in the regular season because of injuries before landing on Laurent Brossoit as their playoff man.
Brossoit left Monday's first period with what appeared to be a serious injury to his left leg.
Adin Hill stopped all 25 shots he faced in relief as Vegas rebounded from a 5-1 loss at home in Game 2 to beat the Oilers by the same score at Rogers Place.
"We've been through a lot with goaltenders all year," Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy said. "We'll try to keep playing the same way no matter who's in there and that's what we did tonight.
"Our guys are even more alert about how to play because you don't want to hang him out to dry. I thought they played the right way to allow him to get a feel for the game and it worked out well for us in the end."
Vegas took the series opener 6-4. Game 4 of the best-of-seven Pacific Division final is Wednesday at Rogers Place followed by Friday's Game 5 in Las Vegas.
If required, Game 6 is Sunday in Edmonton and a Game 7 would be May 16 in Vegas.
Jonathan Marchessault — the Knights' leading goal scorer in the regular season — earned his first two goals of the playoffs.
Jack Eichel scored and had two assists for Vegas with teammates Zach Whitecloud and Chandler Stephenson each chipping in a goal.
Edmonton's Warren Foegele scored the first goal of the game before the Golden Knights countered with five.
Oilers centre Leon Draisaitl and defenceman Evan Bouchard were held off the scoresheet for the first time in the playoffs, and Oilers captain Connor McDavid for the first time since the series opener against L.A.
"Forty-eight hours ago, we played a game we really liked," McDavid said. "Forty-eight hours later, we're here talking about not a very good one. So, our game is not gone, it's not far — we need to bring our best Game 4."
Oilers forward Zach Hyman looked uncomfortable and played just a few shifts after his leg collided with Vegas defenceman Nicolas Hague's in the first period.
Vegas wanted more puck possession in Game 3 and got it. The Golden Knights scored the majority of their goals getting inside defenders and striking from the edge of the crease.
"I just didn't think we were sharp," Edmonton head coach Jay Woodcroft said. "I don't think we skated well. I don't think our battle level was where it needed to be.
"Our team wasn't good in any area tonight."
The Knights helped themselves by not giving Edmonton's vaunted power play, running at 56 per cent, the minutes it had in Game 2.
The Oilers went 0-for-2 with a man advantage in the game, while Vegas was 0-for-4.
"Everyone knows how great their power-play is and it's important to play as much five-on-five as we can," Eichel said.
Neither starting goaltender made it to the end of the game. Edmonton's Stuart Skinner was pulled for Jack Campbell in the second period when Vegas scored its fourth goal on 23 shots. Campbell made nine saves.
"I'd characterize it as we're at the point in the game where we're trying to slow the game down a little bit and change a little bit of the momentum," Woodcroft said.
"We win as a team and we don't win as a team. This isn't on any one individual. To a man, all of us can be a lot better."
Brossoit was swapped out in Game 2 for Hill after the Oilers scored their fifth goal, which may have helped Hill transition quickly into Monday's game when the score was tied 1-1.
"We've used a lot of different guys at this position. They've all played well," Cassidy said. "That's the good part for us. We know the guy going in there is going to make some timely saves.
"We don't rely on him to win games for us. It might have to happen here or there, but in general we have tried to play well in front of our goaltender no matter who is in there."
Brossoit left the ice in pain after sliding across the crease just past the midway point of the first period.
Vegas acquired 37-year-old veteran Jonathan Quick at the trade deadline, so he would shift into a backup role behind Hill if Brossoit's injury is long term, Cassidy said.
"They're all capable of doing the job and being starters in this league," Whitecloud said. "You don't want to see a guy go down like that in LB.
"I don't want to say it doesn't matter who's in there, but we're going to play the same way for any single guy that's in there and battle the same way every single night for our guys."
ROAD WARRIORS: The Knights had one of the best road records in the NHL this season at 26-7-8.
"We might play better on the road," Cassidy said. "First of all, we're a veteran group so noise or a hostile crowd doesn't bother us. I think we're a four-line hockey team and on the road, you don't have last change as a coach. You have to trust whoever is going on the ice.
"We've established that since Day 1 that everybody is going to be able to play against anybody. Guys feel good about their game because of that.
"I also feel for whatever reason this year some of our early chances in a game have gone in the net more on the road than at home."
BATTLE OF THE DRAFT PICKS: McDavid (Edmonton) and Eichel (Buffalo) were the first and second NHL draft picks respectively in 2015. Both have two goals and three assists in this series.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 8, 2023.
Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press