Hill’s legend continues to grow for Golden Knights after Game 2 win

LAS VEGAS — The chant started with six minutes left in the second period, coming from the upper reaches of T-Mobile Arena. “Hill! Hill! Hill!” The man they were lauding, Adin Hill, had just ended up staving off an attempt by the Florida Panthers to break through a goalie who has become, somehow, nearly impenetrable.

Those weren’t his only fans in the arena on Monday, with a growing appreciation for what he has done in helping to save the season of the Vegas Golden Knights and maybe, just maybe, bring them the Stanley Cup. There were the quartet in the front row behind the goal, their white long-sleeves spelling out his name, H-I-L-L. There were the devotees ready to cheer him, whether he was making a save or taking a swipe at Panthers forward Matthew Tkachuk.

“It’s probably been the most fun I’ve ever had playing hockey,” Hill said after making 29 saves in the Golden Knights’ 7-2 win Monday. “Just enjoying it, cherishing every day.”

Which is easy to do, perhaps, when you’re the starting goalie for the team up 2-0 in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup Final.

“I’m just kind of living in the moment,” Hill added. “It’s been awesome to be part of this journey, with this team.”

[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]

Hill seemed locked in immediately, stopping Carter Verhaeghe on a breakaway 4:10 into the first period. Pressured by Alex Pietrangelo, Verhaeghe didn’t get the shot off that he wanted, but Hill made sure the game remained scoreless.

The Panthers swarmed again near the end of the period, after Nicolas Roy was called for a hooking penalty at 15:38. In a span of 28 seconds, Hill made five saves on the Panthers and six, in total, while they were on the power play. On Tkachuk, twice, on Aleksander Barkov, on Sam Bennett, on Brandon Montour, on Verhaeghe.


“Any time you have a goalie playing like that, it provides stability,” defenseman Alec Martinez said. “You have that confidence back there. I’ve been fortunate to be in situations like this with a pretty good goaltender, so it’s a thing, it’s a calmness, it’s a sense of confidence that resonates throughout the entire team. We feel it.”

This wasn’t always going to be Hill’s net. It was Robin Lehner’s. It was Logan Thompson’s. It was Jonathan Quick’s. It was Laurent Broissoit’s.

But now? It is, decidedly, Hill’s.

“He’s clearly made the most [of the opportunity],” Martinez said. “We’re certainly happy for his success but I don’t think anyone’s surprised. He’s one [heck] of a goaltender. We knew that. But obviously we’re really happy for him. Sure hope he keeps it going.”

Video: Golden Knights pile in 7 goals in Game 2 victory

You could almost feel Hill’s confidence growing as the game and the night went on, as the playoffs have gone on, how locked on the puck he was Monday, how casual his stance during the breaks in action, how sure his movements. The first goal he gave up, 14 seconds into the third period, could hardly be blamed on the goalie, with the puck bouncing off the left knee of Martinez and into the net. The second came at 12:44, after the Golden Knights had opened a five-goal lead.

And as the Golden Knights might have lost focus a bit after going up by such a big margin, it was Hill who was there to save them.

“It’s really critical, especially when we go up 4-0,” forward Ivan Barbashev said. “We kind of sit back a little bit and he was there for us to make some saves and he kept us in the game, and he was just amazing again. Hopefully he continues the same way and just helps us to win some games.”

In Hill’s past three games, all wins, he has allowed four goals. In 13 games in the playoffs, Hill has allowed 25 goals, for a 2.06 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage.

It has been everything the Golden Knights have needed.

“He’s stopping everything he’s seeing, which is great for us and has been great for him,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It can give your team a huge lift. You can relax, not every mistake is magnified in those situations. It’s what’s required at this time of year.

“We don’t want to rely on him over and over. I think later in the second period we got a little bit like that. We took some penalties. Let’s not put it all on him. But there’s going to be stretches of games — I’ve said this, we’re an imperfect team — where we need him to be that guy. And he has been.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.