After a rough start to the Western Conference Final, Jonathan Marchessault got himself a little redemption in Game 2.
Marchessault scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights rebounded from a Game 1 loss to take a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets that evened their third-round series.
The Golden Knights forward, who acknowledged there was a little too much watching in the opener, followed up Tomas Tatar’s ice-breaking goal with one of his own, slipping a turnover through Connor Hellebuyck’s legs for a 2-0 lead in the first period. That wasn’t all, though, as Marchessault quieted a Winnipeg crowd that found some life after Kyle Connor’s third-period goal with his second of the night just over a minute and a half later.
Marchessault finished the night with eight shots on goal, combining with William Karlsson and Reilly Smith for five points in the win.
"We just played hard right off the bat and we were able to get that two goal lead," Marchessault told NBC's Pierre McGuire, "and I think we played well with the lead."
With the goals, he now has six in the postseason to go with nine assists, the eighth-highest point total for a player on a team in its first playoff venture.
"Marchy was real good tonight, he scored two big goals," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "I thought all our team did their job tonight. Obviously that top line, when they get going and they make some plays and they’ve got some time and space like they did, the scored a couple of beautiful goals. They were really good and they are strong defensively also."
The good start was important for Vegas, especially Tatar, who has found himself a healthy scratch several times throughout the playoffs after posting just six points in 20 games after coming over from the Red Wings at the trade deadline for a trio of draft picks. An illness to forward David Perron opened the door for the embattled forward to get back into the lineup.
"That’s a big goal by Tats there to get us on the board," Golden Knights forward James Neal said. "I think that’s been the story of our team all year. I think we’ve used everybody and every time someone goes down, someone else gets an opportunity and they make the most of it."
Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury also bounced back after giving up four goals in Game 1, stopping 30 of 31 shots in the win to help his team get out of its first playoff series deficit.
Hellebuyck found himself under siege all night as the Golden Knights used their speed to create chances off of turnovers, making 25 saves, many from right in front of his crease.
"They were better, for sure," Jets coach Paul Maurice said of Vegas, adding that the first period included a particularly troubling 10-minute stretch which produced Tatar and Marchessault's goals, a span the team wouldn't be too enthused to see on video. "We didn’t do anything clean, we didn’t do anything quickly."
The series heads to Vegas as a best-of-five, with Game 3 slated for Wednesday.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
After committing a turnover that led to Winnipeg's first goal in Game 1, Jonathan Marchessault made the most of a Jets' miscue for his first goal, with a beautiful backhand finish for good measure.
1. Jonathan Marchessault, VGK — He criticized his series opener and then keyed the Game 2 win with a pair of goals. That's some accountability.
2. Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK — A 30-save performance gave him his 71st career playoff win, tying him with Jacques Plante for ninth in NHL history. Not too shabby.
3. Tomas Tatar, VGK — Talk about making the most of your minutes: In just 10:14, Tatar outworked the Jets' defense for a second-chance goal, added two shots and blocked another.
Who predicted the Capitals skating out of Tampa Bay with a 2-0 Eastern Conference Final lead? As the series heads to D.C. for a pair, the Caps’ top line is red-hot, having racked up 11 points through the first two games of the series. More importantly, though, is that the rest of the Washington lineup is contributing plenty of offense as well, most notably getting big goals from Devante Smith-Pelly and Lars Eller in Sunday’s 6-2 win. “Everyone is stepping up," captain Alex Ovechkin said. "We played hard. We played smart and you can see all the four lines did their job. We didn't force it. We just did our job." Potentially getting center Nicklas Backstrom in the lineup after missing three games with a hand injury could provide an even bigger boost, though Eller has excelled in Backstrom’s usual second line spot.
The Lightning could be forced to make some roster changes of their own as coach Jon Cooper has expressed some displeasure with his team’s play—specifically at 5-on-5, where Tampa Bay has been outscored 7-1 in the series. "You need everybody, and you just can't depend on a couple guys to do all the work for you," he said. "The problem is right now we're not getting any production other than from our power play, and it's probably very reminiscent of what we did to Boston [in the second round].” There are a few options for Cooper, but no chance any of them involve goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has dealt with more than his fair share of the Capitals’ offense. Whatever the Lightning do, there’s little room for error in Game 3 already.