(East Los Angeles, CA) [August 14, 2020] From the Editor’s Desk Here we go again! As we hear the puck being slapped around the ice rink, the screeching of skates on the ice, the crashing and bashing of players into the boards and the plexiglass…..it all morphs into that oh so familiar sound that NHL fans love to hear, no matter how many times they are repeated. The drama, and sometimes the trauma, of this game usually prevails when it comes to the outcomes of playoff games at this level. So, prepare for a long run to the Stanley Cup finals when only two teams will be left standing and then skating to a date in the NHL Record Books. To follow all of the NHL hockey action “on-line,” click here.
We now offer you our NHL “Game of The Week” – No. 1 Las Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 8 Chicago Blackhawks in Game 2 – A High-Scoring Thriller With An Overtime Goal Gives The Vegas Knight’s Another Victory.
Full Game Recap By Joe Perry: For context, back on Tuesday, Game 1 of this Western Conference series saw a (4-1) victory for the Golden Knights. The expansion team from Nevada is only in its fourth year of existence and yet is already a major force in the NHL. They rightfully claimed the No. 1 seed in their conference to begin the Round of 16, meanwhile the Blackhawks in the last seeded spot had squeaked by and found themselves up against a goliath. But, the Blackhawks played valiantly in that first game and showed promise, even though the Knights eventually ran away with it.
So, in Game 2, the Blackhawks were expected to come out even stronger and stand their ground, otherwise, face an even tougher uphill battle moving forward in the series. And things started out just like that – Blackhawks looked solid in the opening period. Things were quite even, with a lot of whistles in the beginning, particularly off icing from the Golden Knights who were doing anything to mitigate the Blackhawks sustained fore-check. But then, in a flash, the Golden Knights scored a swift and sexy goal to start off the afternoon. Paul Stastny – a crafty player with a great handle on his stick – put it in goal for his very first of the season. There was a tight triangle of passing surrounding the back of the net, flowing from chemistry between Reilly Smith (who had an incredible Game 1) and Jonathan Marchessault, which offered Stastny the opportunity to tap it into the back of the net. The Golden Knights would go on to add another goal from Thomáš Nosek who was inserted into the lineup due to winger Max Pacioretty’s injury. Nosek caught Chicago defender Duncan Keith flat-footed and blew a strong wrist shot past his goalkeeper Corey Crawford on his blocker side. Typically, Crawford would stop that puck, especially because his glove-side is typically more exposed, but alas, the Knights tacked on a second goal to make it (2-0) in the 1st period.
And so, the first period continued with the Knights retaining possession more and the Blackhawks looking a bit deflated. Crawford got more aggressive with his saves and came out of the paint to make stops, meanwhile, Chicago superstar Patrick Kane started to get double-shifted and put in a lot more time, trying to bring more experience to the Blackhawks line up. They eventually garnered a power play after Mark Stone from the Knights blatantly slashed a Blackhawks player following a hard hit. Then, Patty Kane looking to spark something, slipped a shot through the legs (aka “five-hole”) of the Knights goalkeeper Robin Lehner but it banged off the side post and out. The power play whittled away and the first period ended (2-0).
At the start of the 2nd period, shots on goal for both teams were knotted at (7-7). The Blackhawks were losing, but they were definitely not going away so soon. With another solid start and all players engaged, they pushed the pace of the game and saw a return on investment – the first goal of the day from Kirby Dach, the 19 year old rookie with his very first of the season. The Knights actually had offensive possession but clumsily lost the puck after a mixup in the middle of a line change, which led to a 3-2 charge from the Blackhawks and an easy shot on net. Dach, who was driving the net, found himself picking up a nice juicy rebound and slotted it home. The Blackhawks were now fired up, rode the momentum into a power-play and a second goal to tie it at (2-2). Another rookie in the form in Dominik Kubalík was the beneficiary of some open ice, all alone after Kane and Jonathan Toews (another Blackhawk superstar) pushed into the zone some give-and-go passing. Toews dropped the puck back to Kubalík who picked it up in the wide open lane and fired it home for a good-looking goal.
Almost immediately afterward, Chicago was called for a hooking penalty, which gave Vegas their first power play the chance to make the score 3-2. Mark Stone, the slasher from before, jumped on a rebound from an Alec Martinez shot. Stone’s consistent front net presence helped him win yet another battle and put Vegas back on top with only a couple minutes left in the second period. But the Blackhawks would re-surge once more. With only 13 seconds left, they stretched the offensive zone wide and a perfect play found Dylan Strome sweeping underneath and receiving a slippery, low saucer pass from Kane’s backhand. Strome, receiving it in stride, put it away to finish off the 2nd period of play. The score was now (3-3) moving into the 3rd and final period.
With the Blackhawks having come back twice and their rookies stepping up in a big way, the Golden Knights started to put up a lot more shots. The period sped onward and with only 3 minutes left, the shot count swung (31-23) in favor of the Knights, showing a heavy effort to snuff out the Hawks in regulation. But to no avail – regulation ended and Game 2 headed into overtime.
After what felt like a long intermission, both teams took the ice and Chicago was on the backfoot all the way until the last minute. The Golden Knights relentlessly peppered the Blackhawks net and one puck even screamed across the top cross bar. Inevitably, Reilly Smith, the Vegas forward and MVP from Game 1, put himself in the right place at the right time and made a little overtime magic. Paul Stastny (the first scorer of the game) was feeling unselfish and slid a lovely pass across the ice which was met with no resistance from Chicago’s Jonathan Toews, fresh on a line change and completely confused. The mis-coverage left Smith with no one around and another important goal for his career. The final score was (4-3), Las Vegas.
If you’re a Chicago fan or a supporter of any underdog, you probably found this ending to be heartbreaking. But if you’re a Vegas fan, you’re probably not abundantly excited despite the series count sitting at (2-0) now. The Blackhawks came out and showed they not only have an immense amount of willpower but the firepower to back it up. When push comes to shove, this is playoff hockey. It’s anyone’s game. Just because Chicago is the last seed doesn’t mean they’re going to roll over. Unfortunately, they find themselves in the hole, but going into Game 3 if they can claim a victory, they might just be able to turn this whole thing around. For Vegas, they’re looking to keep the lid on the Blackhawks offense while minimizing their own penalties. Vegas’ defense let them down a bit, but it seems their offense can make up the difference if need be. The upcoming Game 3 of this series will be absolutely pivotal.
[About Our Correspondent]: Joe Perry is our new Sports Correspondent and Cinema-TV-Entertainment Columnist for East L.A. Sports Scene. He was born in New Jersey and raised by two public school teachers who loved taking him on World tours. He is a recent June, MFA graduate from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Program in Film & TV Production. Duly noted here, while growing-up, Joe was a huge fan of the New Jersey Devils. He is now covering the re-start of the National Hockey League, (NHL) and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.