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The first Game 7 of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs pitted two teams dripping with offensive firepower against each other as the host Vegas Golden Knights took on the Minnesota Wild. It has become cliche to suggest that the deciding seventh game is prone to the theatre of the absurd, but that's precisely what happened Friday night.
If you were to pick who would likely emerge as the hero from the Golden Knights' 6-2 triumph over the Wild, Mattias Janmark would be near the bottom of the list. Janmark, who was acquired at the trade deadline from the Chicago Blackhawks, hadn't registered a goal since April 21 and saw his offensive production essentially fall off a cliff during the second half of the season.
Janmark, to the surprise of everyone, notched a hat trick against the Wild in Game 7, morphing into the most dangerous player on the ice during the elimination game. In doing so, Janmark joined an exclusive, if entirely random club in the process.
The 28-year-old not only submitted a career game, but he did with unimpeded style and flare, too. Janmark's first goal of the contest was one of the best of the entire first round, splitting past Wild defenseman Ian Cole and barrelling in on a partial breakaway before tucking the puck past an outstretched Cam Talbot for a 1-0 lead. We haven't seen this level of skill from Janmark, ever. What a time to show off his clearly refined bag of tricks.
Janmark's second goal of the contest was decidedly less skilled, but displayed offensive instincts that had been missing for most of the 2021 campaign. Nicolas Roy did all the dirty work, winning the puck behind the net and feeding a wide-open Janmark. Jordan Greenway left Janmark in a failed attempt to provide puck support, while Matt Dumba was tied up with a crashing Alex Tuch.
Finally, Janmark notched the empty-netter, fighting off an outmatched Calen Addison, officially starting the party at a packed T-Mobile Arena.
The hats came flying in, fast and furious.
Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner got in on the fun, too.
Few would've predicted Janmark to break his month-long scoring slump in Game 7, let alone register the first hat trick of his career. But that's the beauty of the Stanley Cup playoffs, encapsulated in one small story, and we now have our first unsung hero of the dance.
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