WINNIPEG, Manitoba — After losing Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, the Vegas Golden Knights made a change in Game 2 against the Winnipeg Jets, inserting Tomas Tatar into Monday night’s lineup.
Tatar took line rushes on the wing and spent time Monday morning on the Golden Knights’ second power-play unit. Tatar playws on the third line with Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter. Veteran forwards David Perron and Oscar Lindberg were both listed as scratches.
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant, as usual, had been coy about his lineup Monday.
“If [Tatar] plays, definitely has a good shot, great release,” Gallant said. “That’s what he can do really well. Great shot in the slot.”
Gallant’s assessment of Tatar’s offensive gifts were proven correct early on as Tatar scored his first goal of the postseason at 13:23 in the first period to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead en route to a 3-1 victory.
The Golden Knights paid a big price to acquire Tatar at the trade deadline from the Red Wings. They sent Detroit a first-round pick (2018), second-round pick (2019) and third-rounder (2021). Tatar, 27, is no rental: His contract runs through the 2020 season, with a $5.3 million cap hit.
It hasn’t been smooth sailing since his arrival. In 20 regular-season games with Vegas, Tatar had just four goals, two assists and a minus-11 rating. Prior to Monday, Tatar had played in only four playoff games for the Golden Knights, with his last appearance coming in a May 2 loss to the San Jose Sharks in the second round.
Like Tatar, forward Tomas Nosek was also in the Golden Knights’ lineup Monday night for the first time since that May 2 loss. Nosek skated on the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Reaves.