Brett Howden #21 and Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after Stone assisted Howden on the game-winning goal against the Dallas Stars in overtime of Game One of the Western Conference Final of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
By Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer
May 19, 2023
LAS VEGAS — Ninety-five seconds vs. 79 minutes and 47 seconds.
“We were able to capitalize on the first look,” Vegas Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Sometimes that happens. Sometimes it’s four overtimes.”
The Golden Knights were prepared for the latter after watching what happened back east Thursday night.
Brett Howden made sure it was the former.
Howden’s goal ended Game 1 of the Western Conference Final with 18:25 remaining in the first and only overtime period necessary, giving the Golden Knights a 4-3 win against the Dallas Stars at T-Mobile Arena on Friday. It sent them celebrating into a home dressing room that was filled with food, energy drinks and so much more just in case of a long night.
Howden’s first NHL postseason overtime goal was the fastest scored in overtime in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year.
It came exactly 21 hours and 37 minutes after Matthew Tkachuk scored the latest overtime goal of the playoffs, at 19:47 of the fourth overtime in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, giving the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win.
There were a combined 73 shots on goal in overtime Thursday before Tkachuk scored on the 74th.
Howden’s was the only shot on goal in overtime Friday.
“I don’t think too many guys were saying it, but I think they were thinking it, just seeing that last night,” Howden said. “With the time change, we were able to see most of the game. However it went, we were ready to go.”
Teddy Blueger said fellow fourth-liner William Carrier drank a Red Bull “for no reason” in the 15 minutes they had after the third period and before overtime began.
Defenseman Zach Whitecloud said he had half of a Red Bull.
“I’m going to be up until 3 o’clock in the morning,” Whitecloud said jokingly.
Whitecloud and Cassidy both said they stayed up to watch until the very end Thursday. They could do that and still be fresh for Friday because when Tkachuk scored it was still Thursday here, thanks to the three-hour time difference. It was 1:54 a.m. Friday on the East Coast.
“I found out the beauty of being out West now because the game ended and it was still 11 o’clock at night,” Cassidy said. “It was kind of nice. Listen, you never know how those are going to go, so don’t turn down any shots.”
The Golden Knights didn’t. They had one chance and scored.
Chandler Stephenson got the puck from Nicolas Hague on a regroup in Vegas’ zone and carried the puck all the way down the ice below the goal line to the right of the net in the offensive zone, pushing Dallas back.
Stephenson then passed the puck to Mark Stone at the left hash marks, and the Golden Knights forward moved it to Howden, who initially whiffed on a one-timer near the right post. That was the first shot attempt of overtime.
Howden went behind the net to recover the puck and managed to bank it in off Stars goalie Jake Oettinger. That was the second attempt and only shot on goal.
“I just tried throwing it in there,” Howden said. “Got lucky that it went in.”
It was Vegas’ fourth goal from a third different line.
William Karlsson, the Golden Knights second-line center, scored the first two, tying it 1-1 at 9:17 of the second period before giving Vegas a 2-1 lead at 1:19 of the third. Blueger got Vegas a fourth-line goal at 9:20 to make it 3-2.
The Golden Knights had 10 of their 18 skaters on the score sheet across the four goals.
“Everybody is pulling on the rope in the same direction,” said Whitecloud, who had two assists.
Ironically, the one line that didn’t contribute offensively was the top line that features Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault and Ivan Barbashev. They were the Golden Knights’ top three scorers in the second round against the Edmonton Oilers with a combined 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in six games, including nine for Eichel on three goals and six assists.
“It can’t always be the stars or the guys that you would expect, and that’s what’s been good about our team, different people step up in key moments,” Cassidy said.
That’s been the biggest reason why the Golden Knights are three wins away from the Stanley Cup Final.
Howden is the seventh player to score a game-winning goal in their nine wins. One of them is Michael Amadio, who has been healthy scratched for the past three games with Blueger replacing him.
“It’s the time of the year where you’ve got to enjoy the moment and you’ve got to kind of embrace it, and we’ve had that with some guys,” Cassidy said. “I mean, raise your hand if you had Howden in your pool tonight in overtime. Probably went in a different direction, but for us that’s why we’ve been able to win.”
It’s also why they were able to get to bed early Friday.
Nobody was complaining about that.
“As long as you win that’s the most important thing,” Blueger said, “but the quicker the better.”