Golden Knights blow late lead but survive wild game, defeat Lightning 4-3 in OT
Despite blowing a late two-goal lead, the Vegas Golden Knights recovered and secured an important two points to sweep the season series against the Tampa Bay Lightning with an emotional 4-3 overtime win Thursday night at Amalie Arena.
Tampa Bay scored two goals in the final 2:07 of regulation, but Alec Martinez made a diving play to score the game-winner 3:07 into extra time.
It was an entertaining game from beginning to end and notably featured 10 misconducts in the third period, significantly thinning both clubs’ benches for the final eight minutes of regulation and overtime.
In the end, however, it was goaltending and special teams that helped the Golden Knights get back in the win column after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Florida snapped a three-game winning streak.
Jonathan Quick stopped 34 of 37 shots for a .919 save percentage, improving to 2-0-0 with the Golden Knights. He was strong throughout the contest, especially considering Vegas was held to just nine shots through 40 minutes of play.
But one of those nine shots found the back of the net early, as Keegan Kolesar opened the scoring just 27 seconds into the game for his seventh of the season. Teddy Blueger set up the 2-on-1 play, delaying before feeding Kolesar for the backdoor tap-in.
Vegas held the one-goal lead for just over four minutes, however, before Brayden Point put home a rebound to even things up at 1-1.
After a scoreless middle frame, the teams combined for four goals in the third period.
The Golden Knights scored the first two in the span of just 3:12, with both tallies coming via special teams.
First, William Karlsson scored while shorthanded to make it 2-1 early in the third. Karlsson lost control of the puck before it crossed the goal line after being tripped on the play, but his 12th of the season ended a 15-game goalless drought and put Vegas back on top by one.
The Golden Knights extended their lead with a power-play goal from Chandler Stephenson, who tipped a Shea Theodore shot to snap a 12-game goalless drought. With the primary assist on the play, Theodore extended his point streak to three games; he has 13 points in his last 12 contests.
An intense third period unraveled just over 12 minutes in when a line brawl broke out. The referees ultimately awarded 10 misconducts, ejecting every single skater on the ice, including both clubs’ fourth lines and third pairings.
Down by two, Tampa Bay continued to push throughout the final seven-plus minutes of the third period.
Eventually, Lightning struck. Twice.
The Golden Knights were without Blueger and Brett Howden, both of whom were ejected, and Vegas lost several key draws in the final minutes of regulation, including faceoffs preceding both of Tampa Bay’s goals.
First, Nikita Kucherov fired a laser off the far post and in, bringing Tampa Bay within one with 2:07 remaining in the third.
The Lightning got a power play with 46 seconds left when Stephenson was called for high-sticking after chipping the puck out of the zone and clipping Mikhail Sergachev up high. The Lightning’s lethal power play went to work, ultimately tying the game and forcing overtime.
Kucherov got the puck on the right side once again, but instead of taking the shot, he faked the one-timer and then fed Point in the slot for the game-tying goal with 28 seconds left in regulation.
Just over three minutes into overtime, Jack Eichel casually took a few strides toward the net before firing a shot that got through Andrei Vasilevskiy and sat in the crease on the goal line. Martinez rushed towards the net and dove to poke the puck into the net, lifting Vegas to the 4-3 overtime win with his second goal of the year.
The assist extended Eichel’s point streak to five games; he has 16 points in 13 games since the All-Star break.
It was far from a perfect performance by Vegas.
The Golden Knights mustered just nine shots through the first two periods and 18 in regulation. Tampa Bay held a 68.83 percent Corsi share, 74.29 percent shot share, 73.68 percent scoring chance share and a 78.93 percent expected goal share at 5-on-5.
Plus, the Lightning held a 15-3 edge in high-danger shot attempts, holding Vegas without a single high-danger attempt (11-0) in the second and third periods, according to Natural Stat Trick.
But Vegas found a way to win an intense game against a very good hockey team.
“I think we found our emotional needle in this game,” Bruce Cassidy said after the game, expressing that some of the physical shifts got Vegas engaged. “I’ve always been OK with that for our group,” he said of the physical play.
“We stuck up for one another. Those things are gonna happen; I think it’s good for the team.”
Though Quick gave up two goals in the final 2:07, Tampa Bay’s star-studded top line accounted for all three Lightning goals, and Quick was solid throughout the contest, giving Vegas every chance to win. He and the Vegas penalty kill went 4-for-5 on the night.
Vegas scored a 5-on-5 goal, a shorthanded goal and a power-play goal in regulation before finishing the job at 3-on-3.
The two points helped Vegas maintain its lead in the Western Conference with 84 points in 65 games.
The Golden Knights will take on the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday before wrapping up the road trip with tilts against St. Louis and Philadelphia on Sunday and Tuesday, respectively.