Golden Knights refuse to fold, rally for late pair to upend Avalanche

Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty scored 45 seconds apart in the third period to lift the Vegas Golden Knights to a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night in Game 3 of their second-round playoff series.

William Karlsson also scored for Vegas and Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 18 shots, including two point-blank saves inside the final two minutes to preserve the win.

After the Avalanche won the first two games at home, the Golden Knights cut Colorado’s series lead in half to 2-1. Game 4 is scheduled for Sunday in Las Vegas.

With Vegas trailing 2-1, Marchessault whiffed on a shot but stayed with the puck and, from behind his own net, banked the puck off the back of Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer to tie it.

Less than a minute later, Pacioretty deflected defenceman Nick Holden’s shot from the point past Grubauer for the go-ahead goal.

Carl Soderberg and Mikko Rantanen scored for Colorado. Grubauer, who dropped to 6-1 this postseason, made 39 saves. He had won his previous 10 playoff decisions dating to last season.

Frenzied Vegas crowd

Back in their own arena and in front of an announced sold-out crowd of 17,504, Vegas fed off the energy and dominated the first period by outshooting the Avalanche 15-3 and had a 6-0 edge with high-danger chances. It was a major turnaround for a Vegas team that was outscored 10-3 in the first two games.

The Golden Knights were able to completely neutralize Colorado’s speedy top line of Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Mikko Rantanen, which has combined for 36 points and a plus-22 rating through seven games this postseason. They also controlled the neutral zone much better, making it difficult for the Avalanche to build speed and create rushes.

Vegas continued to feed off the energy, as Karlsson sent the fans into a wild frenzy when he was able to kick a loose puck off defenceman Alex Pietrangelo’s shot to his backhand and fire it by Grubauer to give Vegas its first lead of the series.

The lead would only last 1 minute, 29 seconds, as Fleury failed to catch a shot by former Vegas teammate Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, leaving a live rebound and wide-open net for Soderberg, who at 35 years and 235 days, became the oldest player to score a playoff goal for the Avalanche since Joe Sakic in Game 3 of the 2008 conference quarterfinals.

Rantanen scored his third goal of the series just seconds into a power play, as his one-timer was too quick for Fleury’s glove. Colorado’s power play ranks No. 1 (11 of 23) during the playoffs, including having the top road power-play threat, having converted four of eight opportunities. Rantanen has points in each of his last 17 playoff games dating to last year, a franchise record for the longest playoff point streak including multiple postseasons.

After leading the league with an 86.8% success rate during the regular season, Vegas ranks 12th with its penalty kill during the postseason, having allowed seven goals against 24 power plays.

WATCH | Longtime producer John Shannon breaks down how much replay is too much:

With the playoffs already seeing two players taken off the ice on stretchers, longtime producer John Shannon talks to Rob Pizzo about making tough replay decisions on live television. 10:29

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