And just like that, the Golden Knights have tied the series.
Jonathan Marchessault recorded his first playoff hat trick, the third in Golden Knights history and second this postseason, as Vegas overwhelmed the Avalanche on Sunday en route to a 5-1 victory at T-Mobile Arena in Game 4.
Things looked bleak for Vegas after the Game 1 drubbing and the Game 2 overtime heartbreaker. But the Golden Knights stormed back with two victories at T-Mobile Arena to even things up 2-2. Game 5 is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday at Ball Arena in Denver.
Marchessault got things going for Vegas, answering an early Colorado goal with a bit of a weird one. There was a scramble in front of the net after Reilly Smith hit the crossbar and Marchessault positioned himself in the crease and redirected a William Karlsson feed into the net at 7:07 of the first to tie the game 1-1.
Max Pacioretty was next, sniping it by Philipp Grubauer off the rush at the 1:11 mark of the second. After that, Marchessault put the game to bed.
He scored on the power play, a power-play one-timer on an Alex Pietrangelo feed at 11:28 of the second, then finished the trick at 6:01 of the third on a Reilly Smith feed. He joined Mark Stone in 2019 and Mattias Janmark in Game 7 of the last round as Golden Knights with three goals in a game.
Marchessault and Pacioretty provided the first four Vegas goals, and dating back to Game 3 combined to score the last six for the Golden Knights.
Patrick Brown added one more with 6:47 left in the game, his second of the postseason.
Vegas finished with a 35-18 lead in shots on goal.
Check back to lasvegassun.com later for more coverage and read below for live updates from the game.
Golden Knights score twice in second period, lead Avalanche in Game 4
Including the second period of Game 4 on Sunday, the Golden Knights have controlled the series for the last seven periods. It took until the second period of Game 4 to get rewarded with the goals that the play dictated.
The Golden Knights scored a pair of goals in the second period to take a multiple-goal lead for the first time in the series, and led the Avalanche 3-1 heading to the third period.
The Golden Knights came out in the second they had for much of the first. An early 22 seconds of power-play time helped set the tone, but it was after the penalty expired that Vegas struck.
For the second game in a row Max Pacioretty scored to put the Golden Knights on top. In Game 3 it was a tip in front of the net and on Sunday it was off the rush, taking a pass from Mark Stone down the left wing and sniping it past Philipp Grubauer 71 seconds into the second period to put Vegas up 2-1.
And for the second time in the game, Jonathan Marchessault came up with a big goal. He posted up in the left circle on the power play and one-timed an Alex Pietrangelo feed by Grubauer at the 11:28 mark for Vegas' second power-play goal of the series.
Marchessault and Pacioretty combined for the last five Golden Knights goals going back to Game 3 on Friday.
The Golden Knights' forechecking pressure has been relentless, never allowing Colorado to leave the zone with any control. Combine that with a wall at the defensive blue line, and it adds up to a tough offensive night for the Avalanche.
Vegas led 23-14 in shots on goal through two periods.
High-paced first period has Golden Knights tied with Avalanche
The anthem barely finished in Game 4 on Sunday before the action started.
There was a scoring chance right after the puck drop, a goal in the first two minutes and two penalties at the end. And after 20 minutes, the Golden Knights and Avalanche were tied 1-1 at T-Mobile Arena.
The Golden Knights came out flying, with a dangerous shot on goal 12 seconds in and another chance broken up seconds later.
But it was the Avalanche who came out with the first goal on their first chance of the game. Marc-Andre Fleury stopped J.T. Compher's shot with his chest, but couldn't hold onto it and as it trickled back onto the ice, Brandon Saad was there to put it home at the 1:50 mark and give the Avalanche a 1-0 lead. It was Saad's third goal of the series.
The Golden Knights' pace only ramped up from there. At the first TV timeout at the 7:23 mark of the first, the Golden Knights had an eye-popping 12 shots on goal, including their first goal of the night.
That was courtesy of Jonathan Marchessault, who stood in the right place and served as a backboard for William Karlsson's shot. Reilly Smith thought he scored after a takeaway in front of the net, but it the crossbar to set up a mad dash for the puck. Karlsson won it and deflected it off Marchessault to even the game at 7:07.
The Avalanche went to a power play after Jonathan Marchessault was called for tripping with 1:58 left in the first, but it was a short one. Twenty-two seconds later Cale Makar took an interference minor and the period ended with 4-on-4 action. There will be two more seconds of it to start the second, then Vegas will have a 22-second power play.
The Golden Knights ended the period with a 15-10 edge in shots on goal.
Selke finalist Mark Stone, Golden Knights looking to even series with Avalanche in Game 4
The Golden Knights will have two players on the ice tonight against Colorado Avalanche who are finalists for major NHL awards.
Forward Mark Stone was named a finalist for the Selke Trophy as the league's top defensive forward this morning along with Boston's Patrice Bergeron and Florida's Aleksander Barkov. Along with Marc-Andre Fleury, who is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the league's top goalie, Vegas has the potential for some serious postseason hardware.
Vegas will need their best players to be at their best in Game 4. The Golden Knights trail 2-1 in the second-round series against the Avalanche. Puck drop is 5:30 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena in what could be a pivotal swing game in the series.
"It's cool to be put in a category with those guys but I've got other things on my mind today," Stone said. "We understand that they're probably going to bring their best game of the series. I don't think they were too happy with the way they played (in Game 3) and they stated that publicly so we've got to bring our best as well.
"Obviously the next game is always the biggest game of the series, but this one is by far the biggest game so far."
The Golden Knights have outplayed the Avalanche for the better part of two games, including domination at 5-on-5. They've shown they weren't going to be intimidated by the 2-0 series hole they found themselves in, and battled back in a must-win Game 3.
But even though they've been the better team for two games, they only won one of them. The Colorado power play continues to be lethal, connecting on five of the 13 opportunities (38.5%) so even if it's tempting to keep doing what they've been doing, the Golden Knights know they can't just sit back and hope a victory comes.
"There's still a lot of hill to climb here," coach Pete DeBoer said. "I think what it's done is give us confidence in what will work for us, and obviously they'll have a say in that and make adjustments. We're confident in our game and if we get to it and get to it for longer periods of time that we're going to be hard to beat."
The Golden Knights are expecting the return of forward Ryan Reaves, who was suspended two games after a roughing and unsportsmanlike conduct match penalty in Game 1. DeBoer did not confirm he would play, but he has never been healthy-scratched under DeBoer, so expect him to return to his usual spot on the fourth line.
Defenseman Brayden McNabb is also nearing a return for Vegas. He has been on the league's "Players Unavailable Due to COVID Protocol" list and has not played since Game 4 of the last round. He was on the ice for morning skate, meaning he has been cleared to leave league protocols, but his availability for tonight is not clear.
Stanley Cup Playoffs Round 2
Series: Avalanche lead 2-1
TV: NBC Sports Network (DirecTV 220, Cox 38, CenturyLink 640)
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-120, Avalanche EVEN; over/under: 5.5 (EVEN, minus-120)
Golden Knights (5-5, West Division No. 2 seed)
Coach: Pete DeBoer (second season)
Points leader: Mattias Janmark, William Karlsson, Mark Stone (6)
Goals leader: Mark Stone (4)
Assists leader: Nick Holden, Chandler Stephenson (5)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (1.88 GAA, .922 save percentage)
Avalanche (6-1, West Division No. 1 seed)
Coach: Jared Bednar (fifth season)
Points leader: Nathan MacKinnon (13)
Goals leader: Nathan MacKinnon (8)
Assists leaders: Gabriel Landeskog (8)
Expected goalie: Philipp Grubauer (1.86 GAA, .941 save percentage)
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty—Chandler Stephenson—Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault—William Karlsson—Reilly Smith
Keegan Kolesar—Nicolas Roy—Alex Tuch
William Carrier—Patrick Brown—Ryan Reaves
Alec Martinez—Alex Pietrangelo
Nick Holden—Shea Theodore
Zach Whitecloud—Zach Whitecloud
Marc-Andre Fleury, Robin Lehner