AP Photo/Chris O'Meara
Published Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 | 3:30 p.m.
Updated Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018 | 7:15 p.m.
For the first time in franchise history, the Golden Knights have completed a regular-season sweep over a team, and it was against the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
Vegas handed Tampa Bay only its fifth regulation loss at home this season Thursday night with a dominant 4-1 victory.
The Golden Knights’ second line of James Neal, David Perron and Erik Haula were on the ice for three goals, including James Neal’s 19th goal of the season only 56 seconds into the game.
Nate Schmidt scored on an assist from Haula and Brayden McNabb to extend the lead to 2-0 after one period.
Tampa Bay would pull within a goal when Ondrej Palat scored a power play goal in the second period, but Perron answered with a wrist shot that beat Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy to make it 3-1.
William Karlsson scored his team-high 24th goal of the season only 18 seconds into the third period to put the Golden Knights up 4-1 and ice the game.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27-of-28 shots to earn his second victory over the Lightning this season. He was also in net for the Golden Knights’ 4-3 win on Dec. 19 in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights are the first team in the NHL to beat Tampa Bay twice this season.
The win snapped a two-game losing streak, and the Golden Knights will be back on the ice again tomorrow night for another road tilt against the Florida Panthers.
Golden Knights lead Lightning 3-1 after two periods
The Golden Knights have outplayed the NHL’s top team for 40 minutes, and carries a 3-1 lead into the final period in Tampa Bay.
The Lightning cut Vegas’ lead to 2-1 midway through the second period with a power play goal by Ondrej Palat. He was the beneficiary of spectacular puck movement by Tampa Bay with a man advantage.
Superstars Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos got the assists on the goal for their 34th and 36th of the season.
The Lightning nearly tied the game when Stamkos fed a cross-ice pass to Kucherov, who one-timed it towards the bottom corner of the Golden Knights’ net, but Marc-Andre Fleury sprawled across the crease and got his pad on the puck.
Seconds later, David Perron deked through the Lightning defense and fired a wrist shot past Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy to restore the Golden Knights’ two-goal lead. It was the third goal of the night while the Golden Knights' second line, made up of Perron, James Neal and Erik Haula, was on the ice.
Golden Knights lead Lightning 2-0 after one period
The Golden Knights stormed out to a quick 2-0 lead over the Lightning Thursday night in Tampa Bay.
Vegas got on the board in the first minute when Deryk Engelland ripped a shot from near the blue line and James Neal deflected the puck past Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was Neal’s 19th goal of the season and the assist was Engelland’s 100th point of his nine-year NHL career.
Nate Schmidt gave the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead with 3:57 left in the first period when he beat Vasilevskiy with a slap shot from the point. Schmidt’s one-timer was set up by a pass from Brayden McNabb, who notched his seventh assist of the season.
The Lightning got their share of chances in the opening stanza, outshooting the Golden Knights 12-8, but Marc-Andre Fleury was a brick wall in net. Fleury stopped all 12 shots including a glove save on the NHL’s scoring-leader Nikita Kucherov.
Vegas is 18-1-0 this season when scoring first and 12-3-0 when leading after the first period.
It’s still too early to call it a possible Stanley Cup Finals preview, but today in Tampa Bay, the Golden Knights and Lightning will face off in a matchup between the top two teams in the NHL.
Vegas has lost two straight since returning from the bye and will be trying to avoid matching its season-long losing streak of three today. That won’t be easy, as the Lightning own the second-best home record in the NHL (17-4-1) behind only the Golden Knights.
Third-line forward Cody Eakin will be returning to the lineup for the Golden Knights after sitting out Tuesday night’s game in Nashville with an undisclosed injury, head coach Gerard Gallant said.
Eakin’s presence on the defensive end will be important against the electric Lightning offensive attack. Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 3.6 goals per game, led by Nikita Kucherov, who leads the league in points with 27 goals and 33 assists.
Equally dangerous is centerman Steven Stamkos, who is ninth in the league in points with 17 goals and 35 assists.
Marc-Andre Fleury will be starting in goal for the Golden Knights. He has lost three of his last four starts, including a 1-0 loss Tuesday in Nashville.
Fleury stopped 35 of 38 shots by the Lightning in the first meeting between the teams on Dec. 19. The Golden Knights won that game 4-3 in Las Vegas, thanks to a goal by Shea Theodore with 2.3 seconds remaining.
Across from Fleury, starting in net for the Lightning will be Andrei Vasilevskiy, who has also lost three of his last four starts. Vasilevskiy hasn’t played since Jan. 11 due to Tampa Bay’s bye but has surrendered four or more goals in each of his last three starts.
Prediction : Tampa Bay 5, Golden Knights 2
Season record for predictions: 25-14
Puck drops: 4:30 p.m.
Where: Amalie Arena, Tampa Bay
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink Prism 1760)
Betting line: Golden Knights plus-145, Total 6 minus-120 to the under
Golden Knights (29-11-3) (11-9-1 away)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: William Karlsson (23)
Assist leader: Jonathan Marchessault and David Perron (25)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (9-3-2, 1.77 goals against average)
Tampa Bay Lightning (31-10-3) (17-4-1 home)
Coach: Jon Cooper
Goal leader: Nikita Kucherov (27)
Assist leader: Steven Stamkos (35)
Expected goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy (27-7-2, 2.18 goals against average)
Golden Knights game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, William Carrier, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Brendan Leipsic, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, David Perron, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brad Hunt, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban