Ross James/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

DALLAS — On paper, the Vegas Golden Knights are a No. 8 seed. A wild card. The last team to qualify for the playoffs in the Western Conference.

Of course, looks can be deceiving. After two games in the postseason, the Golden Knights look much like the Stanley Cup champion that they were just 10 months ago.

Jonathan Marchessault scored his second goal in as many games while Jack Eichel scored an empty-net goal to go with an earlier assist as the Golden Knights defeated the top seed in the Western Conference, the Dallas Stars, 3-1 inside American Airlines Center and now possess a two-games-to-none series lead. Logan Thompson made 20 saves for Vegas in his second career playoff start.

“We’re in a good spot, but there’s still a lot of hockey left to be played,” said Golden Knights defenseman Noah Hanifin, who scored the game-winning goal in the second period. “We’re happy to get back into our building and have that momentum on our side … Just got to keep doing what we’re doing, chipping away at it and play our game.”

The Stars came out with the urgency that was to be expected from a team down 1-0 in a series, especially at home, and capitalized on the pressure it put on in the Golden Knights’ end of the ice at the 16:47 mark with Jason Robertson’s second goal of the playoffs, giving the Stars their first lead in the series.

That lead, and that ensuing momentum, lasted all of 82 seconds, as Ivan Barbashev’s long head-man pass found a streaking Eichel, who selflessly passed the puck to the trailing Marchessault who slammed home his second goal past Stars goalkeeper Jake Oettinger to tie the game just before the end of the first period.

“I loved our first period. We made one mistake at the end of the first but we probably deserved to be up,” Stars coach Pete DeBoer said. “That was probably a critical point in the game with Eichel – the wrong guy gets in behind us at the wrong time. That’s what they do, they make you pay. You come out of the first after playing a great period, and you have nothing to show for it. That was probably a momentum swing.”

Another momentum shift came right before the end of the second period, as Hanifin, acquired in a trade-deadline move from the Calgary Flames, scored his first playoff goal for Vegas with just 1:07 remaining in the period, converting after Stars defenseman Esa Lindell blocked two shots in the build-up.

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Wednesday evening’s contest, with photos taken by ALOST staff photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 24 pictures in total.

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Tags : Dallas StarsNational Hockey LeagueStanley Cup PlayoffsVegas Golden Knights

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