Published Monday, June 5, 2023 | 4 p.m. | Monday, June 5, 2023 | 4 p.m.
Updated 25 minutes ago
UPDATE: Eichel returns
Jack Eichel is on the bench to begin the third period.
End of 2: Golden Knights 4, Panthers 0
Things are looking good for the Golden Knights after 40 minutes, but they might have to finish this game without Jack Eichel.
Vegas’ No. 1 center took a big, clean hit from Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk late in the second period. Eichel lost his footing prior to the hit and landed awkwardly on his left leg.
Eichel went down the tunnel on his own power, but the concern for Vegas is Eichel’s health. There won’t be a need to bring him back should this lead stay intact.
Tkachuk, the Hart Trophy finalist and the Panthers’ leading scorer this postseason, was given a misconduct for the second time in two games. He was ejected for the remainder of Game 1 for roughing on defenseman Nic Hague.
The Golden Knights are 20 minutes away from a 2-0 series lead, but the concern now turns to the status of Eichel.
Knights tack on two more in second, chase Bobrovsky
The Golden Knights have not taken their foot off the gas.
Vegas added two more goals, not even midway through the second period, to push the lead to 4-0 in Game 2.
Nicolas Roy pushed the lead to 3-0 at 2:59 when he cut through the middle of the ice, evaded two Panthers players and beat Florida goalie Sergei Bobrovsky stick side.
Less than five minutes later, Brett Howden pushed the lead to four off a transition chance that began after Mark Stone’s stick broke in the defensive zone. He barrelled over defenseman Brandon Montour on his way to the bench to get a new stick, got back to the offensive zone, and found a cutting Howden for the goal.
That ended Bobrovsky’s night at four goals on 13 shots allowed and is on the hook for his second straight loss, barring a miraculous Florida comeback.
But right now, it’s all Vegas.
End of 1st period: Golden Knights 2, Panthers 0
We’re unsure if T-Mobile Arena has ever reached this level of loud.
The Golden Knights are up by two after the first 20 thanks to goals from Jonathan Marchessault and Alec Martinez in a stretch where Vegas dominated play for most of the period.
Marchessault scored for the third straight game and extended his point streak to seven games (six goals, three assists) with a power-play goal at 7:05 of the opening frame to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead.
Marchessault has 11 goals this postseason with all of them coming in the last 12 games. The Conn Smythe train may have a new conductor.
After killing a Nic Roy hooking penalty, Martinez scored his first goal of the playoffs moments later to make it 2-0 at 17:59 of the period.
The shot counter says 11-10 Vegas, and Adin Hill has made some key saves to stop all 10 he’s faced. Quick transitions and breakouts have allowed Vegas to get comfortable in the offensive zone, and it’s paid off.
Golden Knights not expecting changes from Panthers
Game 1 is usually the feeling-out process in a series. The ridiculousness doesn’t come for another game or two.
But the Golden Knights got an early glimpse at what the Florida Panthers are trying to do; attempting to be more physical, and make a statement by punching Vegas in the mouth.
That didn’t happen, and the Golden Knights went on to win 5-2 in Game 1. They’ll try to take a 2-0 lead in the Stanley Cup Final tonight at T-Mobile Arena (5 p.m., TNT).
The Panthers had 46 penalty minutes in Game 1 with 38 of them coming in a scrum with 4:24 remaining. Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Bennett were ejected from the game for escalated roughing penalties on defenseman Nic Hague.
The punches kept flying in Hague’s face, but the 6-foot-6 blue liner laughed after every blow.
“It’s just all part of the game, and we have to try and manage that as the series goes on,” Hague said. “Try to keep our cool and our emotions, and just focus on the bigger picture and the task at hand.”
Considering 10 of Vegas’ 18 penalty minutes came on Chandler Stephenson’s game misconduct in that same scuffle, that’s a win the Golden Knights will take.
The task at hand, for the moment, is the Golden Knights looking to defend home ice and take a commanding lead when the series shifts to Florida.
Special teams will be key in that, especially if the physicality revs up again. The Golden Knights were 2 for 7 on the power play and also killed all three Panthers’ power plays in Game 1.
“We always try to stay disciplined,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Never mind what happened at the end. They didn’t get the win, so usually, there’s pushback.”
As rare as defeat has been for the Panthers, they’re expected to respond. They haven’t lost consecutive games since Games 3 and 4 against Boston in the first round, and they’ve lost just once since then.
Cassidy said he didn’t think the Golden Knights were at their best in Game 1, albeit typical of opening games.
The Golden Knights that still remain from the Year 1 team that made the Stanley Cup Final know that too well. Vegas won 6-4 in Game 1 against the Washington Capitals before the road team bounced back to win 3-2 in Game 2, highlighted by the iconic stick save by Capitals goalie Braden Holtby.
Momentum can be easily swayed pending tonight’s outcome.
“Our emphasis early on is we want to put them on their heels if we can. It’s tough to do,” Cassidy said. “If we can do that and get the ice tilted our way, that’s what we want every game.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Ivan Barbashev – Jack Eichel – Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith – William Karlsson – Michael Amadio
Brett Howden – Chandler Stephenson – Mark Stone
William Carrier – Nicolas Roy – Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez – Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb – Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague – Zach Whitecloud
Golden Knights-Panthers, Stanley Cup Final Game 2
Time: 5 p.m.
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM
Odds: Golden Knights -140, Panthers +120; total 5.5 (Westgate SuperBook)
Keep this blog handy. It will be updated throughout the night.