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September 18, 2019

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Golden Knights’ ‘mojo’ might be back after performance that resembled last season

Vegas throttles Anaheim to improve to 2-0-1 against divisional opposition

Vegas Golden Knights vs Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile

Christopher DeVargas

Golden Knights center Cody Eakin scores against Anaheim during the second period, bringing the score to 4-0 at T-Mobile Arena, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018.

Vegas Golden Knights vs Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile

Marc-Andre Fleury makes a save in the first period of the Golden Knights' game against Anaheim at T-Mobile Arena, Wed. Nov. 14, 2018. Launch slideshow »

It would be silly to draw conclusions after one game. But in their return home after a 1-3 road trip and in desperate need of something positive, the Golden Knights sure looked like the Golden Misfits of last season.

Cody Eakin, Alex Tuch and Max Pacioretty each had two points and Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves for his third shutout of the year as Vegas beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-0 Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Altogether, it was perhaps Vegas’ most impressive outing of the year.

“We keep looking for that fire and that spark to ignite a little bit of a streak here,” Pacioretty said. “We don’t want to be one-and-done, we want to try to build up some wins here and get in the hunt.”

Pacioretty had two points coming into Wednesday’s game and matched that output with a pair of assists against Anaheim. Eakin netted two goals, and Tuch got the Golden Knights (8-10-1) on the board with 3:18 to play in the first off an assist from Pacioretty, who wasn’t done distributing.

Pacioretty also picked up an assist on Eakin’s first goal, which came 25 seconds into the second period. Tuch got a secondary assist on the play.

After Nick Holden was credited with a goal that was redirected off a Duck's stick, Eakin connected on a short-handed goal to complete the team’s first three-goal period of the season.

“My linemates and I picked up the slack maybe that we had in previous games with not being able to connect on scoring opportunities,” Tuch said. “The three of us, you know what, we find good chemistry and it’s working out right now.”

Holden’s goal chased Anaheim goalie John Gibson from the game, a good start to what is an important few weeks for the Golden Knights. Wednesday began a stretch in which Vegas will play eight of 10 games against Pacific Division foes after playing them twice in the first 17 of the season.

The victory improved the team to 2-0-1 against the Pacific, with both wins coming against the Ducks (8-9-3). Last season the Golden Knights went 20-6-3 against the Pacific, including a 10-3-1 record at home where they regularly thrived behind the atmosphere at T-Mobile Arena.

The players said that was the case again on Wednesday night with an announced attendance of 18,111 fans who witnessed team’s third straight home win and second straight shutout after starting the year 2-2-1 at T-Mobile Arena.

“It’s a special place to play. We feed off the crowd and we get a lot of energy from that,” Pacioretty said. “We want to make sure teams know if they come into our rink, we’re going to make life hard on them.”

And, of course, what made the Golden Misfits so successful last year was success from pieces that may go overlooked. Their final score fit with that theme, as Tomas Hyka got his first goal of the season off of Tomas Nosek’s first assist.

“We got some breaks tonight finally, so hopefully it’s going to turn for us,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “They know tonight was a big hockey game for our group after losing 1-3 on the road trip, so tonight was a huge game for us.

“Hopefully we got a little of our mojo back.”

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