For the second straight game in the postseason round robin, the Golden Knights staged a third-period comeback.
But unlike the opener against Dallas when the Knights took on water for two periods and bailed themselves out in the end, Thursday’s rally was markedly different.
“Tonight, it never really felt in doubt,” right wing Mark Stone said.
The Knights stayed within striking distance of the Stanley Cup champion Blues despite a handful of mistakes and used a strong finishing kick to win 6-4 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
Stone scored the go-ahead goal with 7:29 remaining in a three-goal third period after rookie defenseman Zach Whitecloud tied the score at 4 early in the third with his first NHL goal.
The Knights can clinch the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a win over Colorado on Saturday in the round-robin finale.
“When we’re in a hole, we know the game’s not over and we have that confidence that we come back and stick with it and have a little bit of patience to our game in situations,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I thought tonight we played 60 solid minutes with a real good response game to last game. I thought last game, we didn’t start to play till the third period. This one is a little more enjoyable from a coaching point of view.”
Similar to their final two meetings in the regular season when the Knights rallied from multigoal deficits to win in overtime, the teams traded leads and scoring chances.
St. Louis scored on four of its first 12 shots against goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, including two goals by defenseman Colton Parayko.
Alex Tuch scored twice for the Knights in a wild second period when the teams combined for six goals. He finished with three points.
Shea Theodore added two goals as the Knights finished with a 71-28 advantage in shot attempts.
The Blues, who led 4-3 entering the third period, were 27-0-6 when leading after two periods during the regular season.
“I thought everyone was going the full 60 minutes,” Tuch said. “There was a couple mistakes they were able to capitalize on, but we didn’t hang our heads on it. We kept pushing, kept getting pucks to the net, kept playing our game.”
St. Louis was without four regulars, including high-scoring winger Vladimir Tarasenko, but played with urgency as it tried to remain in the running for the No. 1 seed. With the loss, the Blues can finish no higher than the third seed after leading the Western Conference standings at the pause.
The Blues scored two goals 21 seconds apart in the second after the Knights had gone ahead 3-2.
Parayko caught Fleury out of position on a wraparound to tie the score at 14:07 of the period. St. Louis then took a 4-3 lead when Nick Holden couldn’t clear the zone and Troy Brouwer fired home Tyler Bozak’s cross-ice feed.
“I think we had a couple defensive breakdowns there that led to their goals,” Theodore said. “But we’ve got a tight group, and we know we can score goals.”
Fleury made his postseason debut after starting the exhibition game against Arizona on July 30 and finished with a .765 save percentage.
St. Louis scored on its first shot when a wrister by former Golden Knight David Perron appeared to fool Fleury moments after the Knights were unable to clear the defensive zone.
Blues goalie Jordan Binnington made 13 of his 32 stops in the first period, including a lunging stop in the final minute to deny Chandler Stephenson on a two-on-one.
“I thought we played as good of a 60 minutes as we could,” Stone said. “You stick with the game plan, you continue to push, you’re going to wear teams down.”
Golden Knights schedule
— Monday: Knights 5, Dallas 3
— Thursday: Knights 6, St. Louis 4
— Saturday: vs. Colorado, TBD (AT&T SportsNet)