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Conference Final

Tatar sparks Golden Knights to Game 2 victory against Jets

Forward helps even Western Final after being scratched for series opener

by Shawn P. Roarke @sroarke_nhl / NHL.com Director of Editorial

WINNIPEG -- For Tomas Tatar, the wait was too long to let this latest opportunity slip past without seizing it.

Inserted into the Vegas Golden Knights lineup for Game 2 of the Western Conference Final against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Bell Place on Monday, the forward scored the game-opening goal at 13:23 of the first period of a 3-1 victory that tied the best-of-7 series 1-1.

Game 3 is at Vegas on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, CBC, TVAS).

 

[WATCH: All Golden Knights vs. Jets Game 2 highlights | Complete Jets vs. Golden Knights series coverage]

 

"I said to myself before the game I wanted to work hard on the forecheck, get as many pucks as I can on the forecheck from the guys and we scored from it, so it's all good," said Tatar, who had not played since May 2 against the San Jose Sharks in Game 4 of the second round.

Tatar was scratched in seven of the first 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

Video: Tomas Tatar on the Golden Knights' Game 2 win

The goal did not come easy. Tatar won a puck battle with Winnipeg forward Paul Stastny to the side of the Jets net and fed the puck to forward Ryan Carpenter before it was sent to the point, where defenseman Shea Theodore passed it back to Tatar, who had circled the net.

Tatar missed on two attempts but chased down the puck and stuffed it past goaltender Connor Hellebuyck.

"I think I was supposed to score the first one, but I tried to stay with the rebound and I was fortunate enough to put it in," Tatar said.

The goal gave the Golden Knights their first lead in the series and helped take some of the starch out of the Winnipeg crowd.

Video: VGK@WPG, Gm2: Tatar tucks home opening goal

Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault scored the first of his two goals 3:59 later to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead at the first intermission, a 180-degree reversal of fortune from Game 1 when Vegas trailed 3-1 after 20 minutes and never could find its way back into the game, which ended in a 4-2 loss.

"It was huge," Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said of the opening goal. "It just got (Tatar) into the flow of the game. Look at how many plays he made as the game goes on. He's comfortable. When guys are comfortable and confident, that is when they play their best."

Tatar, acquired in a trade from the Detroit Red Wings on Feb. 26 for three draft picks, including a first-round selection in the 2018 NHL Draft, played in place of David Perron, who was out with an illness.

Tatar did not want to be in the press box with the other scratches in Game 1, but he said he used the time wisely.

"You see how the play goes, which you can't see develop on the ice because it goes too fast," Tatar said. "But you see it from up top and try to learn from it and memorize it."

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant liked what he saw from Tatar.

"I thought he played great," Gallant said. "He played fast, he played quick and he was on top of the play. He was hungry to play. Again, he hasn't played a lot in the playoffs, but he is an important player for us when he gets the opportunity and that is what I want him to do."

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