Vegas Golden Knights Take 2-0 Series Lead in Stanley Cup Final

Vegas Golden Knights Take 2-0 Series Lead in Stanley Cup Final

Posted on: June 6, 2023, 10:23h. 

Last updated on: June 6, 2023, 11:17h.

Two down, two to go. The Vegas Golden Knights are only two games away from winning the NHL championship. That’s after they blew out the Florida Panthers in a 7-2 victory to win Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Jonathan Marchessault
Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault celebrates a goal in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Image: AP)

The Golden Knights tied a franchise record for most goals in a playoff game with seven.

The Panthers have been outscored 12-4 in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final. In the first three rounds, the Panthers allowed 2.6 goals per playoff game.

The series shifts to FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida for the next two games. The Panthers aren’t freaking out just yet. They already overcame a 3-1 deficit in the opening round to upset the top-seeded Boston Bruins.

Teams with a 2-0 lead have an overall series record of 38-3 in the Stanley Cup Final, including a 31-3 record in the expansion era.

The parts of our game that we know that we can improve, we’re going to have to get to real fast,” said Panthers head coach Paul Maurice. “We’ll have a pretty simple game plan. I don’t think it’s about scoring goals in this series because it’s about defending the rush, and we weren’t great at that tonight.”

The Golden Knights are now -500 odds to win the series and hoist the Stanley Cup. The Panthers are the underdog to win the series at +400 odds.

A 4-0 series sweep for the Golden Knights currently pays +300 odds.

More Marchessault Magic

Jonathan Marchessault scored two more goals for the Golden Knights, and the winger also added an assist. He scored 12 goals in the playoffs, which is remarkable considering he was shut out in the opening round. He now has 10 goals in his last 10 playoff games, including three goals in the finals against his former squad.

“They want to set the tone with being undisciplined like Game 1, and we set the tone back,” Marchessault said. “It was scoring that first goal there. But we’re still pretty far from our goal here.”

Marchessault is now the betting favorite to win the finals MVP, otherwise known as the Conn Smythe Trophy, at -105 odds.

Center Brett Howden also scored twice in the victory. Michael Amadio, Alec Martinez, and Nicolas Roy also added goals. Centers Chandler Stephenson and Jack Eichel both added two assists. Forward William Carrier also assisted on two goals.

Our depth has been a strength all year,” said Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy. “It is the biggest reason we are still here, why we beat Winnipeg, Edmonton, Dallas. I just feel that we have the best team from player one through 20.”

For a second straight game, a defenseman found the back of the net when Martinez scored late in the first period.

The Golden Knights capitalized by going 4-for-11 on power plays in the Stanley Cup Final. They had an 18.5% success rate on power play opportunities in the first three rounds, and almost doubled that in the Stanley Cup Final at 36.4%.

Bobrovsky Cools Down, Hill Heats Up

Teams need a hot goalie if they expect to reach the Stanley Cup Final. The Panthers have been riding a red-hot Sergei Bobrovsky all playoffs, but he cooled off in Sin City.

The Golden Knights scored the first goal and never looked back. By the end of the first period, the Panthers were down 2-0. Bobrovsky coughed up two more goals in the second period, and the Golden Knights chased him out of the net with seven minutes remaining in the period.

“We can be a little better in front of our goaltender,” added Maurice. “Got him out to keep him rested.”

Bobrovsky, a 13-season veteran and two-time Vezina Trophy winner, had never given up four goals in consecutive playoff games. Backup goalie Alex Lyon finished the game, but he wasn’t any better. He gave up three goals in the third period and finished with 12 saves.

On the other side of the ice, Adin Hill from the Golden Knights has been spectacular in net in the first two games of the series. Hill held the Panthers to two goals once again and added 29 saves.

“Hilly’s been unreal for us,” said Golden Knights winger William Carrier. “He’s unbelievable.”

Hill made the “save of the playoffs” in a Game 1 victory and he stayed hot in Game 2.

“It’s probably the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” said Hill. “I’m enjoying it, cherishing every day.”

Hill saw his Conn Smythe Trophy odds jump to +500 as the third-highest favorite on DraftKings’ NHL awards board.

Panthers Get Physical with 14 More Penalties

Matthew Tkachuk finally scored a goal for the Panthers in the third period, but he spent a significant amount of time in the penalty box in Game 2. He earned three, 10-minute misconduct penalties in the first two games, including two on Monday night.

The Panthers had 14 penalties in Game 2. The team logged 130 penalty minutes in the first two games, and Tkachuk has 36 of them. The Golden Knights only have 72 minutes in penalties this series.

We’re a big, physical team,” said Tkachuk. “That’s how we have played the last second half of the year and been successful. Don’t think there’s teams that play as physical as we do.”

Tkachuk also leveled center Jack Eichel, who was skating with his head down in the zone in the second period. It was a clean hit, but Eichel headed to the locker room and didn’t return until the third period.

The hit on Eichel caused a post-whistle tussle between Tkachuk and Golden Knights bruiser Ivan Barbashev. Both players were given 10-minute misconduct penalties.

Tkachuk thinks returning to their home ice will lift the Panthers out of their doldrums.

Going home and playing in front of our amazing fans, and the momentum we’ve had playing there like the last month, and honestly since January, we’ve been a solid home team,” added Tkachuk. “We’re going to need them and hope to come out in Game 3 playing our best hockey of the season. If we do that, that’ll be a recipe for success for us, and can make this a series.”

South Florida will host its first Stanley Cup Final home game since 1996 when the Panthers made their first and only appearance in the championship series.

The Panthers are a slight favorite in Game 3 at -120 odds on the moneyline. The Golden Knights are an even-money underdog at +100.

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