LAS VEGAS – Without a goal all playoffs, Shea Theodore found the net just when the Vegas Golden Knights needed it.
With Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final tied at 1 midway through the second period, Theodore took a pass at one side of the blue line, skated to the other side, circled back to dangle Florida Panthers forward Anthony Duclair and move into the slot before firing a wrist shot past Sergei Bobrovsky.
It was vintage Theodore. And it came at a critical juncture.
Theodore's goal ignited the crowd and, more importantly, his team. He also had an assist in Vegas' series-opening 5-2 victory Saturday night, which was something of a show of redemption for the 27-year-old defenseman.
“He’s one of our best players,” Vegas teammate Jonathan Marchessault said. “You need 20 guys every night to win at that time of the year and tonight was a good team effort and Shea took over today. He’s one of those guys that stepped up tonight and definitely happy to see him on the board.”
Theodore snapped a 27-game scoring drought dating to March 7, coincidentally also against Florida. He has 15 career playoff goals.
“I feel good about it, but right now it’s all about the next game and getting that next one," Theodore said. “I feel like a lot of us felt more comfortable tonight. It kind of showed in our game the way we attacked and the way we stayed out of scrums and I guess the score sheet as well.”
For Theodore, though, it was a coming-out party at the right time, as he didn’t necessarily look like himself through the first three rounds. If anything, he’d looked like what he was describing all week when speaking about Vegas when it lost in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, saying the Knights appeared overwhelmed in what was a magical run in their inaugural season.
Coming into the Cup Final, he had seven assists and was averaging just one shot every 12 shifts.
Saturday he averaged at least one shot every eight shifts. He was among the best Vegas players in shot attempts for, compared to those given up to the Panthers.
“Shea’s a huge part of our group,” Vegas forward Jack Eichel said. “It was good to see him get rewarded there, but he’s been doing so many other things for us and the way that he transports the puck up the ice, he can be a one-man breakout at times. He does so much for our team.
“He’s been on a little drought and I’m sure it feels good to find one, hopefully, it boosts his game the next few.”