In finally competitive Stanley Cup Final, Vegas may still have edge on Florida
The sour taste in the aftermath of their Stanley Cup Final Game 3 loss is gone for the Vegas Golden Knights, who quickly moved on to enjoying the nearby ocean breeze.
They're breathing easily up 2-1 on the Florida Panthers in the series, knowing fully they've been the better team so far. Taking a day away off the ice and away from the rink -- but not too far away from hockey on this big a stage -- the Golden Knights are calm, cool and confident going into Game 4 Saturday night with another chance to move toward hoisting the Cup.
"We're not going to change a lot. We don't need to," coach Bruce Cassidy said from his team's beachfront hotel Friday morning. "We're not going to beat ourselves up over (Game 3). We're going to do what we've always done. We're going to work to get better and keep growing our game and hopefully be better."
The Golden Knights have only lost consecutive games once on this playoff run, when they were up 3-0 on Dallas in the Western Conference final. What followed was their best performance of the entire season.
That's still the blueprint, which could come in handy since that was also a road game. But there are still elements of what Vegas is doing entirely within this series that give players confidence, everything from going a surprising 6 of 17 on the power play and a perfect 12 of 12 on the penalty kill to solving Sergei Bobrovsky early and even Ivan Barbashev hitting the post late in the third period Thursday.
"We certainly feel the first three games there's been way more good than bad," Cassidy said. "The guys know what's at stake. It'll be predominantly what we've been doing, 90 per cent of how we want to play."
The other 10 percent, the adjustments that make up the chess match during any playoff series, is also easy to identify. Forward Keegan Kolesar, whose crunching hit on Matthew Tkachuk knocked Florida's leading scorer out for a big stretch of Game 3 because of concussion protocol, pointed to the Golden Knights giving up three goals at even strength as an anomaly.
"That's not like us," Kolesar said. "That's something that we're going to have to clean up. We're not going to beat ourselves down on it. We know we'll be better from it next game, but there's just little critiques that we can probably do to help ourselves out."
They can also go back to making it a priority to create South Florida rush hour-like traffic in front of Bobrovsky, who returned to his second- and third-round form in a major bounce back from getting pulled in Game 2, stopping 25 of 27 shots.
Bobrovsky's brilliance is just one reason the Panthers are riding high after Carter Verhaeghe's goal got them back in the series and made them 7-0 in overtime this postseason. There's also Tkachuk's latest playoff heroics: setting up new dad Brandon Montour's goal early in Game 3, scoring with 2:17 left in regulation to tie it and screening Vegas goalie Adin Hill to pave the way for Verhaeghe to find the net.
Coach Paul Maurice said the win gave his team a chance, and that's enough for him right now. He shook off any notion the Panthers might have found control of the series -- saying they didn't even feel that way when they were on the way to beating Toronto in five games and sweeping Carolina.
"The picture that just came into my head was a frog reaching up and choking an alligator or something, `I've got him where I want him,"' Maurice said. "No, we're scratching and clawing shift by shift. We're not looking for control."
Veteran Vegas defenceman Brayden McNabb agreed with the notion that he and his teammates have control after establishing it earlier in the series.
"Go win Game 4, it's 3-1: That's a pretty big lead," McNabb said. "They got a little momentum off winning last game. It ends after the game. Both teams have a chance to regroup. We know what's at stake for Game 4, and it's a big game for us."
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
Wab Kinew’s New Democratic Party is projected to have enough seats in the Manitoba Legislature to form a majority government, taking the helm after two consecutive terms of a majority Tory regime.
The couple and dog mauled and killed by a grizzly bear in the backcountry of Banff National Park late last week did everything right, Parks Canada says.
A Junior C hockey player says he is lucky to be alive after his neck was sliced open by a hockey skate last week in an act his parents believe – and the referee ruled – was an intentional kick.
Manitobans have cast their vote in a historic election. The CTV News Decision Desk has declared an NDP majority win, making NDP Leader and Premier-elect Wab Kinew the first First Nations premier in the province. Take a look at the election night in Manitoba.
Multiple people were shot at Morgan State University in Baltimore on Tuesday, according to police, who urged students to take shelter on the campus of the historically Black college.
Amid consistent interest rate hikes and wavering markets, Canadian condo sales are starting to fall in all but two markets in the nation, according to a new report from Re/Max.
U.S. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was voted out of the job Tuesday in an extraordinary showdown, a first in U.S. history that was forced by a contingent of hard-right conservatives and threw the House and its Republican leadership into chaos.
Canadian National Railway Co. experienced a network-wide system failure on Tuesday that affected Via, GO and other trains in Ontario. The issue was resolved and service was restored Tuesday night.
The Maritimes have been on an extended run of very fair weather the last two weeks while under a persistent ridge of high pressure. Unfortunately, that pattern changes this weekend with the approach of a weather front from the west and a likely post-tropical storm Philippe from the south.
Liberal MP Greg Fergus is Canada's new House of Commons Speaker, following a secret ranked ballot election on Tuesday. It is a day for the political history books as Fergus, once a parliamentary page, becomes the first Black Canadian to hold the prestigious role.
Canada needs diplomats in India to help navigate the 'extremely challenging' tensions between the two countries, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Tuesday in response to demands that Ottawa repatriate dozens of its envoys.
Independent MP Han Dong said on Tuesday that he's still waiting for word on whether or not he can return to the Liberal caucus, but he hopes it will happen as soon as possible.
A first-of-its-kind study by the University of Ottawa has discovered a lack of information on what data and information is collected on children from food service apps.
The biggest jump in Ontario emergency room visits and hospitalizations for eating disorders during the first 30 months of the pandemic was seen in adolescents aged 10 to 17, according to a new study.
The Biden administration took aim Tuesday at the fentanyl trafficking threat, announcing a series of indictments and sanctions against Chinese companies and executives blamed for importing the chemicals used to make the deadly drug.
Three scientists won the Nobel Prize in physics on Tuesday for their work on how electrons move around the atom during the tiniest fractions of seconds, a field that could one day lead to better electronics or disease diagnoses.
Meta Platforms is looking to introduce ad-free subscription plans for Instagram and Facebook users in Europe, two people familiar with the matter said on Tuesday.
Ancient builders across the world created structures that are still standing today, thousands of years later -- from Roman engineers who poured thick concrete sea barriers, to Maya masons who crafted plaster sculptures to their gods, to Chinese builders who raised walls against invaders.
Late-night talk shows are returning Monday after a five-month absence brought on by the Hollywood writers strike, while actors completed the first day of talks that could end their own long work walk-off.
Mariah Carey is bringing Christmas to Toronto a bit earlier this year.
A Los Angeles County Judge ruled Monday that singer Lady Gaga will not have to pay out the US$500,000 reward that she promised for her French bulldogs' safe return following a 2021 dognapping incident.