January 4th, 2019
The Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on Friday night in a game that saw both teams score 2 goals in less than forty seconds during the second period.
The Golden Knights opened the scoring at 6:52 of a dominant first period when defenseman Nate Schmidt took a pass from Brad Hunt and blasted the puck through heavy traffic for his 4th goal of the year to put the Golden Knights up 1-0. The tally created some controversy as there was a delayed penalty being called at the time. The Ducks goalie John Gibson appeared to control the puck just prior to the Schmidt shot by shoveling the puck into the corner to his left but the referee allowed play to continue.
The Golden Knights finished the period with a 1-0 lead, out shooting the Ducks 17-6. John Gibson, showing why he was selected to the All-Star Game, kept the Ducks in the game with 16 saves, many of them on point-blank scoring chances by the Golden Knights.
Nick Holden opened what would become a wild second period by taking a penalty at 1:22. The Ducks Daniel Sprong took quick advantage of the power play to tie the game at 1 a side. Just thirty-five seconds into the man advantage he took a pass from Josh Mahura and let go a blast from the top of the right circle. The Ducks Nick Ritchie provided an excellent screen at the top of the crease and Marc Andre Fleury never saw the shot.
Just eighteen seconds later the Ducks took the lead on a goal by Carter Rowney. The Ducks started out of their end with Brian Gibbons leading the way up the right side. Entering the Golden Knights zone he spotted Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm down low on the left side and hit him on his tape with a perfect pass. Lindholm then tipped the puck across the crease to Rowney who didn’t miss the wide open net.
Exactly eight minutes later the Golden Knights started their two goal outburst. Tomas Nosek parked at the top of the crease banged home the rebound of a Brayden McNabb slap shot for his fifth of the year to even the score. Nosek, who spotted the puck loose behind Gibson, managed to get his stick on it while fighting for position and shove it across the goal line while falling to the ice.
Thirty one seconds later, Mac Pacioretty, who earlier in the day was activated from the injured list after missing 7 games, put the Golden Knights ahead for good. Alex Tuch created a turnover at the Golden Knights blue line when the Ducks Adam Henrique tried to enter the zone along the left side boards. Tuch pushed the puck up ice to Paul Stastny, who had Pacioretty breaking up the left-wing to create a 2 on 1 attack. Stastny sailed a beautiful cross ice pass down low to Max who buried the puck behind Gibson for his eleventh goal of the year, the eventual game winner.
To make room on the roster for Pacioretty the Golden Knights announced earlier in the day that Brandon Pirri would be sent down to the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. Pirri, who has quickly become a fan favorite in Las Vegas by scoring six goals and 9 points in just seven games with the big club appears to be a victim of his waiver exempt status. Assistant General Manager Kelly McCrimmon seemed to confirm that the team would like to keep Pirri at the NHL level by saying “he’ll be back.”
Fleury and the Golden Knights shut down the Ducks the rest of the way, stopping all eleven shots he faced in the third period to seal a dominating performance and earn the two points. The Ducks netminder John Gibson showed why he is an All-Star selection this season, stopping thirty-nine shots by the Golden Knights. Many of them high quality, point-blank chances by the Golden Knights, who carried play most of the night.
With the win the Golden Knights move into a points tie with the Calgary Flames for first place in the Pacific Division at 54 points, and a tie for second overall in the NHL with the Flames and the Toronto Maple Leafs. THe Golden Knights have now won five straight and extended their point streak to eight games, capturing 14 of a possible 16 over that span. THe Golden Knights start a three game home stand against the New Jersey Devils Sunday at 1:00 PM PST.