The Vegas Golden Knights were playing a smart game against the Florida Panthers early on. The Panthers got a short-handed goal when the Knights play dipped, and Eric Staal scored on a wrap around goal to give them a 1-0 lead early in the first.
The game was 2-2 after 2. Anthony Duclair scored at 19:49 and took that momentum into the locker room. So what changed?
I don’t believe the Zach Whitecloud goal broke the game open. What broke it open was the Knights were winning the physical battles and playing disciplined defense, especially in the third period. They weren’t backing down in the scrums. And the Panthers wore down. Their defense has to play perfect, because it’s not deep, and it couldn’t.
“I thought tonight we played our composed game,” said Knights, winger, Jonathan Marchessault, who scored a goal himself. “Our best game is yet to come.”
Sergei Bobrovsky was better than his stats showed. He made some huge saves, but his counterpart, Adin Hill was better. He talked about his highlight reel save here.
Jack Eichel had two assist,s and he played great defensively; stealing the puck and creating scoring chances was something he made look easy in Game 1.
“I thought we did a good job trying to play in their end,” said Eichel. “Got some good shots on net, some good opportunities, made some good plays, and I thought we did a good job trying to eliminate their time in our zone…Give our “D” credit. We were able to find a few goals and win the game.”
Panthers’ agitator and scorer, Matthew Tkachuk faded after the first period. He wasn’t effective. He only registered two shots and three hits. That has to change in Game 2, or Florida is in trouble.
Gustav Forsling was Florida’s worst defenseman with four giveaways. He did have three takeaways and was a –1 for the game.
Florida has to regroup and play a better game. They’re capable, but the pressure is now squarely on them to raise their level of defensive play.
Whitecloud photo by Sportsology