Marchessault’s hat trick lifts Vegas to 5-1 win over Avs

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jonathan Marchessault had his fourth career hat trick to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday night to tie their second-round series at two games apiece.

Two days after his tying goal sparked a come-from-behind win in Game 3, Marchessault got his third three-goal game with the Golden Knights. The eight-year veteran also had one while with Florida.

Max Pacioretty and Patrick Brown also scored for Vegas, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 17 saves for his 87th career playoff victory — one shy of tying Ed Belfour for fifth on the all-time list.

The game was played in front of an announced crowd of 18,081 — the largest to attend an NHL game this season.

Game 5 is Tuesday night at Colorado.

Brandon Saad had the only goal for the Avalanche, who had an early 1-0 lead. Philipp Grubauer, who came in with a .941 playoff save percentage, stopped 30 shots.

The Golden Knights have outscored Colorado 9-4 since the start of the second period in Game 2, and outshot the Avalanche 110-52 since the first period of the same game.

After Saad gave Colorado a 1-0 lead less than two minutes into the game, the Golden Knights dominated. Whether they were exiting the defensive zone and building steam in the neutral zone, keeping pressure on Grubauer, or neutralizing the Avalanche’s speedy top line, the Knights controlled the action for much of the night.

Through the first two periods, at 5-on-5, Vegas held a 17-9 edge on shot attempts, an 11-3 advantage with scoring chances, and a 6-1 lead with high-danger chances.

Marchessault tied it at 1 after linemate Reilly Smith’s backhand caromed off the crossbar with what Grubauer thought was a goal as he appeared dejected and took his focus away from the action. William Karlsson threw the puck at the net and Marchessault was there for a redirect into a wide-open net.

With Vegas’ top line opening the second period, captain Mark Stone led a 3-on-2 rush from the defensive zone and as they crossed the red line, fed Pacioretty, who skated in and scored on a wrist shot from the top of the left circle to the far side.

Later in the period, on a power play, Alex Pietrangelo set up near the point and drew all four Colorado skaters in his direction, leaving Marchessault wide open and with a perfect view of the net. Pietrangelo promptly sent a soft pass to Marchessault, who blasted a one-timer past Grubauer to push Vegas’ lead to two goals at 3-1.

Marchessault completed the hat trick six minutes into the third period, when he took Smith’s cross-ice pass and buried it to give Vegas a commanding 4-1 lead.

Brown, who wore the captain’s “C” on his sweater during the AHL season with the Henderson Silver Knights, sent a chip shot at Grubauer, who slid behind the goal line with the puck to extend Vegas’ lead to 5-1.

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