DENVER | Mark Stone blocked a shot on the defensive end and by the time he spun around, a pass was waiting for him with nothing but clear sailing ahead.
A burst of speed — even as tired as he was — and a wrist shot later, he was being mobbed along the boards by teammates.
The captain to the rescue.
Stone scored on a breakaway 50 seconds into overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights overcame a two-goal deficit to beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Tuesday night and take a 3-2 lead in their second-round series.
“He was exhausted and you saw how hard he skated all the way down the ice,” teammate Alex Tuch said. “He’s the heart and soul on this team. He wears his character on his chest. He’s the captain we’ve always wanted. It was a huge goal.”
Max Pacioretty corralled the puck after two blocked shots on that end and fed it to Stone, who was off to the races. Stone beat Philipp Grubauer on the glove side to hush what had been a boisterous crowd.
“That was vintage Mark Stone,” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. “Big-time play to win it for us.”
Trailing 2-0 entering the third, the Golden Knights found another gear with Tuch scoring 1:03 into the period and Jonathan Marchessault tying it up just 3:04 later.
Really, though, it was the Marc-Andre Fleury Show, with the Vegas goaltender stopping 28 shots, many of the sensational variety. He stuffed J.T. Compher just 10 seconds into the extra period.
“Fleury makes a big stop there. It happened bang, bang,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “He’s able to get a piece of it. It didn’t go our way tonight.”
Fleury picked up playoff win No. 88, which ties him with Billy Smith and Ed Belfour for the fourth-most in NHL history. It was also Fleury’s 12th career playoff overtime win, which trails only Tuukka Rask (15) and Braden Holtby (14) for most among active goaltenders, according to NHL Stats.
“He’s a Vezina candidate for a reason,” Stone said of Fleury, who’s up for the league’s top goaltender award. “He’s the Vezina winner in my opinion for a reason and he stayed strong throughout the whole game.”
Colorado appeared in command after a 2-0 lead courtesy of Brandon Saad’s goal late in the first and another from Joonas Donskoi in the second. The Avalanche couldn’t make it stand as their 13-game home winning streak was snapped. It’s a string that dated to March 27 — an overtime loss to Vegas.
The Golden Knights are in the driver’s seat, with the winner of Game 5 going on to take the series 78.8% of the time when a best-of-seven series is tied at two games.
Game 6 is Thursday at Vegas.
“The biggest cliché in the playoffs is the toughest game to win is the fourth one,” said Stone, whose team has won three straight. “We’re gonna have to regroup and get ready for that one.”
It was another big performance from Marchessault. He had a hat trick in Game 4.
Grubauer, who’s been dominant at home, finished with 22 saves. He’s now 17-1-1 in his past 19 games at Ball Arena.
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar switched up his lines in an effort to generate more energy and production. He paired Saad, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen on the top line, while moving Landeskog to the second unit.
It worked, with Saad scoring with 1.8 seconds left in the first period on a shot that appeared to cross up Fleury. Saad has now scored in seven of Colorado’s nine postseason games.
Donskoi made it 2-0 late in the second on a pinpoint pass from rookie Alex Newhook, who was reinserted into the lineup after sitting out the last two games.
“We don’t have much time to do anything but rebound,” Landeskog said. “We’ve got to go into Vegas and win a hockey game. It’s as simple as that.”
BACK IN ACTION
Returning to the lineup for Vegas was Mattias Janmark, who was hurt on a check from defenseman Ryan Graves in Game 1. Back for Colorado was forward Logan O’Connor, who hasn’t played since since March 31 due to a lower-body injury.
Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri saw his eight-game suspension for an illegal hit in the St. Louis series upheld by an arbitrator hours before Game 5. Kadri will be eligible to return if there’s a Game 7.
AROUND THE RINK
Vegas F Ryan Reaves was a scratch. … There was a shout-out on the video screen to Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic, who was named the NBA MVP on Tuesday.