LAS VEGAS — The Vegas Golden Knights entered Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final with a 1-0 series lead after their home win on Saturday night.
Vegas left T-Mobile Arena on Monday night one game closer to winning the Stanley Cup, defeating the Florida Panthers in Game 2 by a final score of 7-2.
The Knights got the first power play of the game — Ryan Lomberg was called for a cross-check. On the same shift, Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas took a hard hit, which looked to be high from Ivan Barbashev. Gudas immediately left the game and did not return.
On their first power play of the night, Vegas didn’t take too long to get on the board. Jonathan Marchessault walked in from the top of the faceoff circle and sniped it above Sergei Bobrovsky, giving Vegas a 1-0 lead.
Florida looked completely outclassed in the opening period. Vegas’ breakout and transition game was a threat basically every shift — while their defensive play was just as good with their shot blocking and lane clogging.
The Panthers were being outmuscled, outskated and outplayed.
Down one, Florida’s got their first chance on the power play. Vying for the tying goal, the Panthers had generated multiple quality chances — but they ran into a brick wall in Adin Hill. Hill’s big saves kept Florida off the board, and pumped up the already rampant T-Mobile Arena crowd.
Right after a successful kill, the Knights took a two-goal lead. Alec Martinez scored in a similar spot that Marchessault did, just on the opposite side of the ice — beating Bobrovsky to put the Knights up 2-0.
Vegas went into the first intermission up 2-0.
The misfortune for the Panthers quickly followed them into the second. 2:59 into the period, Vegas made their lead three, off a pretty calm shot from down low by Nicolas Roy. Bobrovsky didn’t see it.
The onslaught didn’t end there. 7:10 into the period, Brett Howden put away Vegas’ fourth goal of the game. Bobrovsky’s night would come to an end before the midway point in the second — Alex Lyon would come in and finish the game.
Vegas’ two second period goals would be it for that frame, but the period wouldn’t end without some tempers flaring.
Minutes before the second intermission, Jack Eichel was caught in his tracks by a full speed Matthew Tkachuk at open ice. Tkachuk hit a falling Eichel’s shoulder hard — popping his helmet as he hit the ice. Eichel would head to the locker room after the hit, while the Knights made their way to Tkachuk.
Hands were thrown from all sides of the ice while off-setting minors filled up the score sheet. Tkachuk and Barbashev would come out of the mess the most affected — both receiving 10 minute misconducts in addition to their roughing minors.
Vegas took a 4-0 lead into the final break.
With Tkachuk serving a 2 and a 10 for most of the third and Radko Gudas leaving the game due to injury, Florida had to spend most of the third period skating with 10 forwards and 6 defensemen (Panthers dressed 11 forwards, 7 defensemen).
Florida started the final period with a small but important lifeline at the time in a 4-0 game. 14 seconds into the third, Anton Lundell finally got the Panthers on the board from a shot that redirected off a Knights’ player. It wasn’t pretty, but it went in.
Despite a quick start to the third with an early goal, the small amount of hope Florida had was short lived. Two minutes after Lundell cut the deficit to three, an unmarked Marchessault scored his second goal of the game — Vegas went up 5-1.
Matthew Tkachuk did end up returning to the game — for a few minutes. He scored Florida’s second goal after Vegas got their sixth, then he got thrown out of the game the following shift.
The Knights successfully defended their home ice in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final. They’ll fly to Sunrise with all the momentum and a 2-0 series lead.