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Golden Knights blow another 3-1 series lead but get to host Game 7 Wild forces Game 7 in playoffs Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot (33) stops a shot by Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex ...Minn

Author : lekassembuh90
Publish Date : 2021-05-27 20:48:04
Golden Knights blow another 3-1 series lead but get to host Game 7 Wild forces Game 7 in playoffs Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot (33) stops a shot by Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex ...Minn

T-Mobile Arena is about to take another step in its evolution as an NHL arena.

It’s about to host its first Game 7.

The Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild will meet for the final time in the first round at 6 p.m. Friday in the first Game 7 of the 2021 NHL playoffs. It will mark the third time in three years the Knights will play a seventh game after taking a 3-1 series lead.

This time, the Wild battled back with a 4-2 win Monday at T-Mobile Arena and a 3-0 victory Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center.

The winner gets the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Colorado Avalanche, who have been idle since finishing a sweep of St. Louis on Sunday. The first game of that series is scheduled for 5 p.m. (PT) Sunday in Denver.

There’s a lot of playoff experience in that (locker) room,” Knights coach Pete DeBoer said. “The guys in there know that every day you wake up in the playoffs and you still got an opportunity to play, it’s a great day. That’s what we’ve got. Excited about tomorrow night. I know our group’s going to be ready. We’ll let it fly.”

The Knights are 1-1 in Game 7s.

They lost 5-4 in overtime at the San Jose Sharks in the first round of their second season. They led 3-0 in the third period before a controversial and infamous major penalty call on center Cody Eakin sparked a Sharks comeback.

The loss made the Knights the most recent team to lose a series after taking a 3-1 lead. Twenty-eight other teams have done it in NHL history.

The Knights avoided the same fate last postseason by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 3-0 in Game 7 of the second round in the NHL’s Edmonton, Alberta, bubble. The game was tied until defenseman Shea Theodore scored a power-play goal with 6:08 remaining. The team added two empty-net goals.

The Knights aren’t lacking for big-game experience on their bench. DeBoer is 5-0 in Game 7s, the first coach in NHL history to win his first five Game 7s. That includes victories in both of the Knights’ Game 7s on opposite sides.

Defensemen Alec Martinez and Alex Pietrangelo, both of whom have won the Stanley Cup, are 4-0 in Game 7s. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is 3-4, and Robin Lehner is 1-0 after shutting out the Canucks.

“We believe in ourselves,” captain Mark Stone said. “We believe in our team. We have one game in our home rink to move on. It’s that simple.”

The key to the Knights’ hopes is their scoring. The team scored nine goals to sweep Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota. It has five goals in the other four games.

Stone (five points) and left wing Alex Tuch (four) are the only players with more than three points for the Knights in the series. Left wing Max Pacioretty, the team’s leading goal scorer, hasn’t played in the series because of an injury. Theodore, fourth in points in the regular season with 42, has none in six games.

“Minnesota’s a very good defensive team,” DeBoer said. “We knew coming into this series these were going to be low-scoring games and it was going to be hard to create offense. We feel we’re a good defensive team, too. We’ve battled back and forth through that through the six games.”

The Wild appear confident after winning the past two games. They’re 3-0 in Game 7s in their history and have erased 3-1 deficits twice. All of their Game 7 wins have been on the road.

Wild goaltender Cam Talbot is 0-1 in Game 7s. He allowed two goals on 30 shots for the Edmonton Oilers in a 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks in the second round in 2017.

“I think this is what everyone was dreaming of when they were a kid,” said Minnesota center Joel Eriksson Ek, who declared himself “good” after briefly leaving Game 6 in the third period. “Going into a Game 7, it’s going to be really fun. This is what everyone wants to do. You want to play important games.”

Here are three takeaways from Wednesday’s loss:

1. Penalty kill falters

The Knights were willing to challenge a goaltender interference call on a game-tying goal in the third period in part because they were confident in their top-ranked penalty kill if they lost the call and Minnesota got a power play.

The PK didn’t come through. The Knights lost the challenge, and the Wild took advantage by scoring their first power-play goal of the series. They had been 0-for-8.

Fiala, the Wild’s second-leading scorer in the regular season, netted his first goal of the series. He had two points after being held scoreless in the first five games.

“Teams are going to score on the power play if you give them a ton of opportunities,” Knights right wing Reilly Smith said. “We’ve done a good job all series. Every now and then they’re going to find holes and get some bounces, and they did tonight. We’ll be sure to be a little bit cleaner next game.”

2. Depth scoring

The Knights came into the series worried about the Wild’s scoring depth, but they did a good job containing it. Until Wednesday.

Minnesota’s two five-on-five goals came from its third and fourth lines. Fiala picked up an assist at five-on-five on center Ryan Hartman’s goal in addition to his power-play tally. Right wing Nick Bjugstad helped seal the win with his first goal and point of the series with 4:43 remaining.

Center Nico Sturm picked up an assist on Bjugstad’s goal for his second point. Both fourth-line forwards had 17 points during the regular season.

3. Martinez fight

The first fight of the series took place in the second period between defensemen Matt Dumba and Alec Martinez.

Dumba, whose hard hit on left wing Alex Tuch prompted the fight, made sense as one of the combatants. It was the 11th fight of his NHL career, according to hockeyfights.com.

It was unusual to see Martinez step in. It was the veteran’s second NHL fight and first with the Knights.

Contact Ben Gotz at [email protected] Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

# Fiala, Wild force Game 7 with 3-0 victory over Vegas
The Minnesota Wild have proven themselves to be a tough out. The Vegas Golden Knights could use some work on their finishing touch.

Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist in the third period to break open a scoreless game, Cam Talbot had his second shutout of the series and the Wild again staved off elimination with a 3-0 victory over the Golden Knights on Wednesday night.

"We’ve been playing like this all year long. When it comes down to it, when we need a big stand or a big game or a big period, we just always seem to find a way," Talbot said.

The first-round series moves back to Las Vegas for the decisive Game 7 on Friday night. The Colorado Avalanche, who tied the Golden Knights for the best regular-season record in the NHL, await after sweeping the St. Louis Blues.

"It’s an opportunity to come out in your home arena with all your fans excited and full of emotion," right wing Reilly Smith said. "So it’s the stuff we dreamed about as kids."

Ryan Hartman scored first and Nick Bjugstad tacked on the last goal in support of Talbot, who made 23 stops. He had 38 saves Monday night to help the Wild steal Game 5 while being outshot 40-14.

"I knew the chances were going to come," Hartman said. "It was only a matter of time."

Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 21 stops, gave up three goals for the second straight game after allowing only four scores over the first four games.

Fiala, the team's second-leading scorer during the regular season, went without a point in the first five games until tallying two at the best possible time. The Swiss left wing zinged a slap shot on a power play from the circle that ==sneaked underneath Fleury's pad.==

The Golden Knights nearly tied it moments before that on Chandler Stephenson's shot from behind the circle that Talbot never saw. Alex Tuch was in the crease, arguing he was being pushed by Matt Dumba, and the goal was waved off. Not even the challenge by Vegas coach Peter DeBoer worked this time, after two earlier goals in the series by Joel Eriksson Ek were overturned by video review.

"If that one stood, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here right now. I’d just be getting fined," Talbot said.

After 44:21 of scoreless play, this tightly checked game finally opened up when the bounce off a blocked shot caught the Golden Knights flat-footed and Fiala found space for an odd-man rush with Hartman. Fiala set his partner up perfectly, and Hartman sent the puck above Fleury’s glove to ignite the 25% capacity crowd at Xcel Energy Center.

The Wild will try to become the 30th team in NHL history to win a series after a 3-1 deficit. The most recent was the San Jose Sharks, then coached by DeBoer, to beat Vegas in 2019. Minnesota has done it twice, both in 2003.

The Golden Knights, after reaching the Stanley Cup finals in 2018 in their inaugural season, are 2-8 in the playoffs since then in games with a chance to advance.

"We believe in our team. We have one game in our home rink to move on. It’s that simple," captain Mark Stone said.

After a penalty-free first period, the intensity gradually increased. Minnesota's Marcus Foligno checked Zach Whitecloud hard enough that one of the stanchions came loose, disconnecting the glass pane as the Vegas defenseman went hurtling through the suddenly open space.

"There’s some big, big men out there," Wild coach Dean Evason said.

Dumba leveled Tuch with a sharp mid-ice shoulder, prompting Golden Knights teammate Alec Martinez to drop the gloves with Dumba in solidarity with Tuch. Four years ago, to protect Dumba in the expansion draft, the Wild traded Tuch to Vegas.

For the Wild, the middle period was bound to be as pivotal a timeframe as they've had all season.

Often a step behind the speedier Golden Knights, particularly with the longer shift change, the Wild were outshot a stunning 22-1 in the second period of their 3-2 win on Monday and 72-40 over the first five games of the series. Vegas had an 8-1 goals advantage, too. Minnesota was outscored 61-46 in middle frames during the regular season.

LINEUP CHANGES

The Golden Knights, still missing star Max Pacioretty to an undisclosed injury, held defenseman Brayden McNabb out for the second straight game. He's on the league's COVID-19 protocol list. Ryan Reaves was also scratched, and Cody Glass made his postseason debut on the third line.

For the Wild, defenseman Carson Soucy missed his second straight game, with rookie Calen Addison again taking his place. Matt Boldy, their first-round draft pick in 2019, took part in warmups but was left out of the lineup.

Kevin Fiala, Wild force Game 7 with 3-0 victory over Vegas
The winner of Game 7 will take on the Avalanche in the second round

Kevin Fiala, Wild force Game 7 with 3-0 victory over Vegas
The winner of Game 7 will take on the Avalanche in the second round

“We’ve been playing like this all year long. When it comes down to it, when we need a big stand or a big game or a big period, we just always seem to find a way,” Talbot said.

The first-round serie



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