Whether it was the glove side or sheer puck luck, everything went the right way for the Vegas Golden Knights in their, 5-1, win against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena in Game 4 on Sunday night.
The home team has not lost a game in the series thus far as the clubs are tied 2-2 in the best-of-seven Second Round matchup, while Jonathan Marchessault recorded a hat trick in front of the home crowd.
Marc-Andre Fleury (6-4, 1.79 goals-against average, .924 save percentage in 10 games played) made 17 saves on 18 shots against in the win for Vegas.
Colorado netminder, Philipp Grubauer (6-2, 2.25 goals-against average, .929 save percentage in eight games played) stopped 30 out of 35 shots faced in the loss.
Nazem Kadri remained out of the lineup for Colorado with two games remaining in his suspension after Game 4, while Ryan Reaves returned to Vegas’ lineup after completing his two-game suspension.
Robin Lehner was also back for the Golden Knights as Fleury’s backup, relegating Logan Thompson back to the press box as a healthy scratch on Sunday night.
Brandon Saad (6) kicked things off with a goal from the doorstep on a rebound to make it, 1-0, for the Avalanche at 1:50 of the first period.
J.T. Compher (1) and Andre Burakovsky (3) tallied the assists as the Avs struck first, but would not strike again on the scoreboard on Sunday night.
Less than a minute later, Patrik Nemeth cut a rut to the penalty box for holding and presented Vegas with the first power play of the night at 2:43 of the opening frame.
The Golden Knights failed to convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Moments later, however, Vegas started to swing momentum in their favor as they were clearly dominating possession and generating more shots on goal than Colorado.
One shot from Reilly Smith rang the crossbar behind Grubauer and bounced through the crease before William Karlsson let go of a followup shot that deflected off of Marchessault (3) and into the twine.
Karlsson (4) notched the only assist on Marchessault’s first goal of the evening as the Golden Knights tied the game, 1-1, at 7:07.
Late in the period, Marchessault was sent to the sin bin after he tripped up Joonas Donskoi at 18:02, but the first skater advantage for the Avs didn’t last long as Cale Makar interfered with Smith at 18:24 and cut Colorado’s power play short at 18:24.
Neither team managed to score in the ensuing 4-on-4 action as the first period drew to a close with the Golden Knights and Avalanche tied, 1-1, on the scoreboard, despite Vegas outshooting Colorado, 15-9.
The Avalanche were 0/1 and the Golden Knights were 0/2 on the power play heading into the middle frame.
Shortly after both teams emerged from the first intermission, Max Pacioretty (3) received a pass on a rush and beat Grubauer clean from the faceoff circle over the far glove side to give the Golden Knights their first lead of the night, 2-1.
Mark Stone (3) and Zach Whitecloud (2) tallied the assists as Vegas went ahead at 1:11 of the second period and never looked back.
Midway through the middle frame, Burakovsky was penalized for holding as a scrum ensued, yielding matching minors for Alex Tuch and Compher– each for roughing– at 9:35.
Late in the resulting power play, Vegas worked the puck to Marchessault (4) for a one-timer from the faceoff dot to the right of the Colorado goaltender.
Once more, Grubauer was beaten on the far side– only this time Marchessault’s shot sailed under the glove of the Avs goalie.
Alex Pietrangelo (5) and Karlsson (5) had the assists on Marchessault’s power-play goal as the Golden Knights extended their lead to, 3-1, at 11:28.
Through 40 minutes of action at T-Mobile Arena, Vegas was dominating on the scoreboard, 3-1, and in shots on goal, 24-14, including a, 9-5, advantage in the second period alone.
The Golden Knights held the lead in takeaways (10-4) and giveaways (9-7), while the Avalanche led in blocked shots (15-7) and hits (37-31). Both teams managed to split faceoff win percentage, 50-50.
Colorado remained 0/1 on the power play, while Vegas went 1/3 on the skater advantage entering the second intermission.
Early in the final frame, Whitecloud sent an errant puck out of play, resulting in an automatic infraction and a power play for the Avalance at 1:54 of the third period.
The Avs did not convert on the ensuing skater advantage.
Moments later, Marchessault (5) completed his hat trick with a one-timer setup by Smith through the crease as No. 81 for Vegas wrapped around the net and beat Grubauer from point blank after the Colorado goaltender had lost his stick.
Smith (4) and Karlsson (6) recorded the primary and secondary assists, respectively, on Marchessault’s third goal of the game– his first career postseason hat trick and the second hat trick in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Golden Knights franchise history at 6:02 of the third period.
Vegas had pulled ahead, 4-1, as a result.
Midway through the third, some controversy emerged as Patrick Brown (2) managed to poke a loose puck through Grubauer’s five-hole, but the initial call on the ice was that there was no goal due to incidental goaltender interference.
That was quickly overturned by an official review, which deemed that Brown had not done enough to merit an infraction and, thus, Vegas led, 5-1, with Reaves (1) and William Carrier (2) earning the assists at 13:13 of the third.
But that wasn’t enough to convince Avs head coach, Jared Bednar, as the Colorado bench boss used a coach’s challenge on the grounds that he believed that Brown had, in fact, interfered with Grubauer’s momentum while making the initial save.
Turns out, the refs didn’t agree as the call that was originally “no goal”, then overturned to a “good goal” remained a “good goal” as the new call was upheld.
Grubauer was already skating backwards and had too much momentum to keep the puck, if not himself alone, in front of the goal line.
Confused? Don’t be.
Vegas made it, 5-1, was the end result.
Colorado was assessed a bench minor for delay of game– having lost the coach’s challenge at 13:13 of the third period, but the Golden Knights didn’t score on the resulting power play, while Kiefer Sherwood served the penalty in the box for the Avalanche.
At the final horn, the Golden Knights had won, 5-1, and tied the series at 2-2 as a result.
Vegas finished Game 4 leading in shots on goal, 35-18, including an, 11-4, advantage in the third period alone, while also leading in giveaways (11-9).
Colorado wrapped up Sunday’s effort leading in hits (48-44) and faceoff win% (52-48), while both teams managed to amass 18 blocked shots each.
The Avs finished the night 0/2 on the power play, while the Golden Knights went 1/4 on the skater advantage.
Vegas outshot Colorado at home in Games 3 and 4 by a combined shot total of 78-38.
Or for another fun stat…
The Avalanche managed to last in Game 2 because of their first line. The Avs were stifled in Games 3 and 4 because of a lack of depth scoring and because the Golden Knights kept Colorado’s first line quiet– completely off the scoresheet– in the latter game.
The series is tied 2-2 heading back to Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado for Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Puck drop is expected a little after 9 p.m. ET and viewers in the United States can tune to NBCSN for the action, while those in Canada can catch the game coverage on CBC, SN or TVAS.