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December 10, 2018

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Return of quick-strike offense secures Golden Knights win over Blackhawks

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Steve Marcus

Vegas Golden Knights celebrate a goal by Jonathan Marchessault in the third period against the Chicago Blackhawks at T-Mobile Arena Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018.

Golden Knights Beat Blackhawks 4-3

Vegas Golden Knights center Oscar Lindberg (24) and left wing Tomas Nosek (92) fight for the puck with Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Jan Rutta (44) during a game against the Chicago Blackhawks at T-Mobile Arena Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018. Launch slideshow »

It’s happened twice in two games now, where the Golden Knights not only erased a third-period deficit but scored almost immediately to retake the lead and hang on to win.

Tuesday against the Washington Capitals it was 16 seconds. Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks, it was Jonathan Marchessault and Alex Tuch scoring 12 seconds apart to lift the Golden Knights to a 4-3 victory at T-Mobile Arena.

“It shows a lot of character and commitment in this room,” Tuch said. “It’s just line after line after line just going out there and competing, and I think we did a really good job of that in the third period.”

Perhaps twice is a coincidence and three times is a trend as the saying goes, but the last two games have whipped up memories of last year’s quick-strike Golden Knights.

The Blackhawks had just taken their first lead of the game — and first since Nov. 18 — with 12:46 to go in the third period, a 3-2 lead that lasted all of 41 seconds.

Reilly Smith showed off his acrobatic side Thursday, first flipping a puck over goalie Corey Crawford’s glove in the first period and scoring while falling to the ice, then flipping around at center ice in the third and tilt-a-whirling the puck to Marchessault, who lasered the puck over Crawford’s shoulder to even the game.

“I was actually telling (Marchessault) just to chip it in,” Smith said. “(Marchessault) made a great shot and that really helped us.”

Before the Blackhawks knew what hit them, Tuch intercepted a pass in the Chicago zone. He dished to Max Pacioretty in front of the net, Pacioretty gave it right back, and though Tuch didn’t get all of the shot, it was enough to trickle by Crawford, stand up to a goalie interference review and give the Golden Knights the lead they would not relinquish.

“They called it a goal and you don’t really think about it after that, you’re just really happy,” Tuch said. “I just tried to get it on net and found a hole.”

The dark cloud on the night was the second period. Just like Tuesday, the Golden Knights got ahead early in the first, then allowed the opponent to climb back into it in the middle frame. The Golden Knights have a minus-six goal differential in the second, the worst of any period.

“We found a way to win and that’s a credit to our team, but we gotta be better than that for 60 minutes,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “The first two periods is what bothered me in the game.”

What is a trend is Vegas finding ways to win hockey games that they weren’t earlier this year. The win was the Golden Knights’ fourth in a row at home, and seventh in their last eight games overall. Since Nov. 21, they have outscored opponents 33-16 and raised their goal differential on the year to plus-seven.

And Vegas is now plus-10 in goal differential in the third.

“We came back in the third period,” Marchessault said. “We were good, and we were able to get a big two points here.

“We definitely have some mojo I think.”

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