NHL playoffs: Golden Knights roll into Edmonton and crush the Oilers in Game 3

Vegas bounced back in Game 3 on Monday night to take control of its second-round series with the Oilers, but the win came at a cost.

Jack Eichel made his mark for the Golden Knights in Game 4. (Getty)

After suffering a similar fate in Game 2, the Vegas Golden Knights bounced back and dominated the Edmonton Oilers for a 5-1 win in Game 3 to take a 2-1 lead in their second-round series.

Things looked good early on for the Oilers after Warren Foegele opened the scoring just 2:45 in to get the Edmonton crowd buzzing. That however would be the climax for Oilers fans as Vegas pounded in the next five goals, with Jonathan Marchessault scoring twice before the first period was up and Zach Whitecloud, Jack Eichel and Chandler Stephenson adding tallies in the second.

The Oilers coaching staff may need to agonize over every failure in this one, as the Golden Knights often made things look easy (maybe even “Draisaitl easy”) in Game 3, leaving Edmonton with a litany of questions to answer.

Do you put Draisaitl and McDavid on different lines again? Can you trust either of your two immediate goalie options in Stuart Skinner and Jack Campbell? Is Zach Hyman too banged up to contribute? How worried should Edmonton be about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (six assists, but zero goals in these playoffs after 37 goals and 104 points in a career-best regular season)?

Either way, the Oilers had no answers when Vegas locked things down in Game 3, and they didn’t have a clue how to slow down Eichel. As back-and-forth as that Kings series was, this might be the biggest test Edmonton will face in these playoffs.

Game 3 belonged to Eichel, not McDavid or Draisaitl

In Game 1, Jack Eichel generated two points, but one was a (nice) empty-net goal, and the other was a secondary assist. While Eichel went pointless in Game 2, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid tormented Vegas.

Game 3 ended up being Eichel’s turn.

The most scintillating highlight took place when Eichel burned Evan Bouchard in transition before scoring a beautiful 4-1 goal.

As the hockey world absorbed the Chicago Blackhawks winning the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery (aka the Connor Bedard sweepstakes), people will think of the Oilers winning the McDavid lottery. With the Anaheim Ducks finishing second again, some may also think of the Pittsburgh Penguins getting the franchise-changing gift of Sidney Crosby.

If Bedard ends up being closer to an Eichel-level player, that would still be a boon for Chicago, though. Game 3 was a testament to that. He now has 10 points through his first eight career playoff games.

That 4-1 goal ended Stuart Skinner’s evening 32 minutes in. Right off the bat, things weren’t much sunnier for Jack Campbell, who allowed a pretty Chandler Stephenson goal to restore Vegas’ advantage to 5-1 shortly after a goalie interference call went the Oilers’ way.

Bitter Oilers fans will instead focus on the lack of penalty calls that went Edmonton’s way in Game 3. There’s room for that argument, yet when you’re not controlling the puck, you receive fewer chances to draw calls.

Vegas rolls starting in first period

While Game 2 seemingly “got away” from Vegas, the Golden Knights got back to business — and then some — in Game 3. Although the bounces don’t always go Vegas’ way to this extreme, this was an emphatic return to form.

Part of returning to normal meant that Vegas was carrying significant chunks of play at even-strength. Another part was seeing Jonathan Marchessault and Jack Eichel become more dangerous.

The Oilers saw another dissolve quickly when Marchessault scored a gritty 1-1 tally to break a nine-game goal drought.

Eichel grabbed his second assist (both primary) on Marchessault's second goal. While Kailer Yamamoto and the Oilers have an argument that Eichel should’ve been whistled for a penalty before the play even developed, the former Sabre did a ton of excellent work in transition, eventually setting Marchessault up for a tap-in.

Marchessault raised his stature in the Golden Knights’ sneaky-impressive playoff history with that Game 3 performance.

Golden Knights goalie Brossoit injured in Game 3

Unfortunately, goalie injuries and disruptions are also all-too-normal for the Golden Knights. That regular season pattern now looks like it will extend into the playoffs. While making a side-to-side save on a rebound, Laurent Brossoit suffered what could be a troubling injury.

Brossoit isn’t that far removed from hip surgery so this is an unfortunate setback. (Sportsnet’s Kelly Hrudey called it “heart-breaking.”)

If nothing else, the Golden Knights are accustomed to going through different goalies. Adin Hill made his 2023 playoff debut in relief of Brossoit in Game 2 of this series, but Hill played more in the regular season (27 games) than Brossoit (11). The Golden Knights’ most-used starter Logan Thompson is banged-up, while they traded for Jonathan Quick — who came out of the press box to back up Hill on Monday — at the deadline.

Goalie questions become less of a concern when the team in front of them can hog the puck, though. Through the first two periods, the Golden Knights generated an impressive 13-4 advantage in high-danger chances at even-strength, and there wasn’t much of a late push to speak of from the Oilers.

A pivotal Game 4 goes Wednesday night in Edmonton.