The Vegas Golden Knights were the best defensive team in the league during the regular season. In the playoffs, the defensemen have picked up where they left off and showed why they are one of the best groups in the league. It all starts with a pair of Stanley Cup Champions who make up the first pairing – two time cup winner with the Kings Alec Martinez and former Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo. It doesn’t stop there with the second pairing of Brayden McNabb and Shea Theodore, and the third pairing of Nick Holden and Zach Whitecloud. They are always in the mix in terms of getting to the puck, distributing, and scoring. Game one against Montreal was no exception.
How it Happened
Theodore’s goal with his ripper of a shot got the party started in The Fortress. The goal was asisted from McNabb and Chandler Stephenson. Shortly after, it was a one timer from the right circle from Martinez. Theodore and Reilly Smith set it up. Martinez made the exact same play against Minnesota with Pietrangelo on the feed. Whitecloud got the secondary assist on the Mattias Janmark goal. Finally, Holden got the final goal of the night to make it a 4-1 final. The Vegas D core tallied five points in the affair. Pietrangelo was the only one not to register on the score sheet. Martinez also added a huge shot block during the game. This is nothing new to him as he lead the league in that category. Of course, we also have to give a ton of credit to the walking hall of famer in net, Marc-Andre Fleury. During the game, all six defesnemen touched the puck and brought physical play to the Montreal all night long.
In the first period of the second act of the series, the defensemen made their presence felt again. Brayden McNabb had a shift for the ages in the first highlighted by a diving shot block. The D group had their fair share of pass breakups, physical play, and scoring opportunities. McNabb also broke up a last second shot to end the period. With Montreal red hot, Alex Pietrangelo was able to stop the bleeding with 1:14 left in the second with a goal from the point. With a little over five minutes to go in the third, he scored again to make it a one goal game. Vegas would fall 3-2 to tie the series, but still another great effort by the defensemen.
The Knights organization has made it a priority to continue to load up on talent at every position and that is a huge reason of why they have been so successful in their young history. No gambles, just good business decisions.
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