Golden Knights beat Kraken on late Kolesar game-winner

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY
Keegan Kolesar scored the game-winning goal with 1:20 remaining in Thursday's game, giving the Golden Knights two ever so valuable points in the Western Conference playoff race.

LAS VEGAS–The Golden Knights secured two necessary points at The Fortress on Thursday night, beating the Kraken 3-1 to pull within two points of the Kings in the Pacific Division.

Keegan Kolesar scored the game-winning goal with just 1:20 remaining in regulation, and the play stood upon review after the Kraken initiated a challenge for offsides. It was as close as you could come to being offsides without actually being so. It felt initially that the play would probably be too close to overturn, and the broadcast and press box both concurred with that assessment.

Still, it presented some tense moments for the Knights faithful in the closing minutes of yet another cardiac-inducing outing.

Jack Eichel opened the scoring for the Knights just over eight minutes into the first period, and the score would stay at 1-0 until the Kraken tied the game at one with just over seven minutes remaining in the game.

“It’s this time of year,” Eichel said after the game. “We just have to find a way. It’s not always going to be pretty, but at the end of the day, it matters that you get two points. We did that tonight, so credit to the group.”

The fans at The Fortress may not have been able to indulge in the nighttime NCAA tournament slate, but Kolesar’s game-winner had a flair for the dramatic typically reserved for March Madness. It’s hard to call any single moment a turning point for this team at this point in time, and I won’t do it here, but what I will say is that this was a moment they needed to execute in if they wanted to show they are still a somewhat serious team.

“Those types of goals are a little more prevalent in the playoffs,” said Bruce Cassidy. “It’s a good thing to be able to generate offense that way, because the rush game tends to shut down.”

An empty net goal by Chandler Stephenson with 12 seconds left settled the final score at 3-1, moving the Knights record on the season to 37-25-7.

It wasn’t a pretty win. Far from it. In fact, despite winning three of their last five games, the best they looked as a unit was actually in Tuesday’s loss to the Lightning. Had Adin Hill even been somewhat pedestrian in the net that night, this team would be riding a three game win streak with five wins in their last six. Still, they’ll surely take three out of five considering the quality of the product on the ice in those games.

“Nothing’s easy right now for us, it seems like. That can be a good thing if you persevere and get through it,” said Cassidy. “For whatever reason, our execution, maybe on the skilled players or the rush or the power play is just not where it typically is right now.”

If there’s one silver lining with the Knights in their recent trials, it’s that they’re showing an ability to win games where they aren’t the better looking group on the ice. This team is going to need breaks like they’ve gotten over the past week or so in the playoffs, especially with the health of their captain Mark Stone likely to be a continuing issue into the playoffs.

The Golden Knights complete a four game homestand on Saturday night against the Blue Jackets. Puck drop at T-Mobile Arena is set for 7:30 p.m. local time.