Jonathan Marchessault scored his first career playoff hat trick and Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves as the Vegas Golden Knights cruised to a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche in the second round of the West Division playoffs on Sunday night in Las Vegas.
Max Pacioretty and Patrick Brown also scored goals and William Karlsson had three assists for the Golden Knights, who evened the best-of-seven series, 2-2. Game 5 is Tuesday night in Denver.
It was the 87th career playoff victory for Fleury, most of any active NHL player, and moved him within one win of Billy Smith and Ed Belfour for fourth place on the all-time postseason career wins list.
Brandon Saad scored a goal and Philipp Grubauer finished with 30 saves for Colorado, which had not lost consecutive games since three defeats in a row in late April.
The Avalanche took a 1-0 lead at the 1:50 mark of the first period when Saad knocked in a rebound of a J.T. Compher shot from the backdoor for his sixth goal of the playoffs.
But Vegas tied it a little over five minutes later on Marchessault’s first of the game, tipping in Karlsson’s shot from the left corner.
The score was set up when Colorado defenseman Patrik Nemeth made a blind pass from the side of his set directly to the Golden Knights’ Reilly Smith, whose shot banged off the crossbar into the left corner. Karlsson retrieved it and fed Marchessault.
The Golden Knights took a 2-1 lead early in the second period on Pacioretty’s third goal of the playoffs at the end of an odd-man rush. He fired a snap shot from the top of the left circle over Grubauer’s left shoulder and into the far top corner.
Marchessault made it 3-1 with a power-play goal midway through the period, one-timing a pass from Alex Pietrangelo from the center of the left circle past Grubauer’s glove side.
The Avalanche had a chance to close to within one goal early in the third period, but Joonas Donskoi’s shot ricocheted off the far post. Five minutes later, Marchessault, alone by the right side of the net, tapped in a crossing pass from Reilly Smith to complete his hat trick.
Brown made it 5-1 when he jammed in a rebound under Grubauer, who covered the puck but couldn’t keep it from sliding over the goal line.
–Field Level Media