The best series of round two is almost over, and it’s all some ex-Capitals’ fault. Nate Schmidt and Chandler Stephenson had a big Sunday night for the Vegas Golden Knights, delivering the difference in their team’s 5-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Skating on Vegas’s third line, ex-Cap Chandler Stephenson scored a clean-looking rush goal to get the Knights in the lead in the first period.
A simple give-and-go with defender Shea Theodore.
The Knights lost their lead as Elias Pettersen took over the game, but ex-Caps defender Nate Schmidt’s slapshot beat Vancouver goalie Jacob Markstrom.
Schmidt just sort of floated in the slot while the Knights and Canucks fought over the puck, with Jon Merrill eventually winning the board battle.
Merrill, a 28-year-old defender formerly with New Jersey, was playing in his first game since March 9.
“Jonny’s a guy who hasn’t played for six months, and he steps into the game, and I thought he played great,” Schmidt said after the win. “In the third period when I scored, I was more excited for Jonny sliding it over than anything.”
Five minutes later, Schmidt was the guy-behind-the-guy on the game-winning goal. It was his pass that found Max Pacioretty just wide of the goal mouth, ready for a deft deflection.
Schmidt, picked up by Vegas from Washington in the 2018 expansion draft, has one goal and five assists in the real playoffs. He leads the Knights in ice time per game.
Meanwhile, Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 of 31 shots in his first appearance in 15 days. Last week his agent tweeted an image of Fleury getting stabbed in the back, indicating some frustration at the former Penguins goalie’s lack of ice time.
The Canucks and Knights play next on Tuesday night. It will be a potential elimination game for Vancouver. It’s also probably the most entertaining series of the postseason, so please do watch if you’re inclined.
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