Isaac Brekken / AP
Published Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 | 4:30 p.m.
Updated Friday, Feb. 23, 2018 | 10:06 p.m.
After a slow start, the Golden Knights pulled away from the Vancouver Canucks for a comfortable 6-3 lead Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.
William Karlsson scored two goals, bringing his total to 33 on the season and moving him into third place in the entire NHL.
Reilly Smith assisted on three goals for Vegas, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves to earn his 21st win of the season.
Rookie Tomas Hyka scored the first goal of his NHL career to get the Golden Knights on the board early, but the Canucks would score the next two goals to take a 2-1 lead late in the first period.
Vegas scored the next four goals to take a commanding 5-2 lead after two periods, and cruised to a victory.
Golden Knights lead 5-2 after two periods
William Karlsson scored his 32nd and 33rd goals of the season, and the Golden Knights lead Vancouver 5-2 after two periods at T-Mobile Arena.
Karlsson tied the game 2-2 near the end of the first period with a one-timer off the stick of Reilly Smith. The Swede then gave Vegas a 3-2 lead early in the second to move into third place in the NHL (three behind league-leading Alex Ovechkin).
The Golden Knights would add two more goals, by Jonathan Marchessault and Tomas Nosek, to stretch the lead to three.
Smith assisted on Marchessault’s goal, giving him three in the game.
The Golden Knights 23-2-1 this season when leading after two periods.
Golden Knights, Canucks tied 2-2 after one period
Tomas Hyka scored the first goal of his NHL career on a strange play in the first period, and the Golden Knights are tied 2-2 with Vancouver after one period at T-Mobile Arena.
Hyka calmly shot the puck through the legs of Canucks’ goalie Anders Nilsson, but it slid just wide of the far post. Fortunately for Hyka, he skated behind the net and tapped in his own rebound to give Vegas an early 1-0 lead.
Marc-Andre Fleury made a few highlight-reel saves on one-timers in front of the net, but eventually Vancouver’s pressure was too much. Sven Baertschi got the Canucks on the board with a goal from Sam Gagner, then Thomas Vanek gave Vancouver a 2-1 lead.
The Golden Knights would tie the game quickly, as William Karlsson scored his 32nd goal of the season less than a minute later.
The Golden Knights may have to replace the battery in their goal horn after tonight.
Yes, I realize the horn likely isn’t battery operated, but the point remains. Fresh off a seven-goal outburst on Wednesday, tonight the Golden Knights face Canucks’ backup goalie Anders Nilsson, who has the fourth-worst goals against average in the entire NHL.
Nilsson has allowed 3.34 goals per game this season, including five in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Avalanche in his last start.
The Golden Knights won the first meeting between the teams 5-2 in Vancouver on Nov. 16, and oddsmakers are expecting another high-scoring affair. The total is currently at six with a heavy minus-125 lean to the over, and at minus-260 the Golden Knights are the largest favorite they’ve been this season.
“(The Canucks’) record isn’t where they would like it to be but they have a lot of good, young pieces,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “Brock Boeser is a great young hockey player. He shoots the puck as well as anyone in the league and you have to pay attention to him.”
Boeser, 20, leads the Canucks in goals (27) and points (50), and is one of the leading candidates for the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year. Boeser surprised many by besting some the NHL’s biggest stars in the shooting accuracy challenge at last month’s all-star game.
The Golden Knights will look to contain Boeser tonight in what should be a fast-paced game.
Prediction: Golden Knights 5, Canucks 1
Season record for predictions: 31-21
Puck drops: 7:30 p.m.
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink Prism 1760)
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-260, Total 6 minus-120 to the over
Golden Knights (40-16-4) (23-5-2 home)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: William Karlsson (31)
Assist leader: David Perron (41)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (20-7-2, 2.10 goals against average)
Vancouver Canucks (23-30-7) (12-15-3 away)
Coach: Travis Green
Goal leader: Brock Boeser (27)
Assist leader: Henrik Sedin (36)
Expected goalie: Anders Nilsson (7-10-2, 3.34 goals against average)
Golden Knights game day roster
Forwards (12): Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, Tomas Hyka, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, Stefan Matteau, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brad Hunt, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Maxime Lagace