Isaac Brekken / Associated Press
Published Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019 | 2:16 p.m.
Updated Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019 | 6:47 p.m.
The Golden Knights can breathe a sigh of relief. For the first time in nearly two weeks they have won a hockey game. And boy did they win.
Vegas exploded with four goals in the third period, Nate Schmidt had four points and William Karlsson scored twice in a 6-0 statement win over the Calgary Flames at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday evening.
Marc-Andre Fleury had 34 saves for his second shutout of the season. Karlsson had two goals and an assist, Max Pacioretty had a goal and two assists, Cody Eakin scored his first of the season, and Mark Stone and Paul Stastny added one as well.
The Karlsson and Pacioretty duo was clicking from whistle to whistle, opening the scoring in the first period with a 2-on-1 that Karlsson completed. They did the opposite in the third, with Pacioretty knifing a shot by Calgary goalie Cam Talbot.
Schmidt was equally impressive. All three of his assists came on breakout passes, including a second-period set-up to Paul Stastny. Schmidt ripped it through the neutral zone to his center, who danced around Norris Trophy winner Mark Giordano to get a clean shot and beat Talbot. It was Stastny's first point in eight games.
The Golden Knights scored in each period, and after surrendering multiple-goal leads in each of their last three home games, Vegas turned it on in the third, adding two goals, one each from Pacioretty, Eakin, Stone and Karlsson.
The Golden Knights held the edge in shots on goal 37-34.
Vegas continues its four-game homestand on Tuesday when the Toronto Maple Leafs come to town.
Golden Knights up 2 after 2 against Flames
The Golden Knights will have a two-goal lead when the third period begins. Vegas has lost two-goal leads in each of their last three home games, and will be tasked with holding this one against the Calgary Flames. Vegas led 2-0 after two periods.
Things got a little heated near the halfway mark. First Andrew Mangiapane and Jon merril got tangled up, a scrum that led Marc-Andre Fleury to put his glove on Matthew Tkachuk's head and enrage Tkachuk. All but Fleury went to the box and Vegas went to the power play.
It lasted 22 seconds before it got evened up. Mark Jankowski took a shot at William Karlsson while Karlsson was on the ice and Jonathan Marchessault jumped him, drawing a roughing call and 1:38 of 4-on-4 hockey.
It was in the open ice that Vegas capitalized. Paul Stastny collected a cross-ice saucer from Nate Schmidt and had only the reigning Norris Trophy winner to beat. Stastny faked a shot, curled around Mark Giordano and beat Cam Talbot at 9:39 to put the Golden Knights up 2-0.
The chippiness continued as the period progressed. William Carrier was flagged for tripping and roughing in a scrum that also sent Ryan Reaves, Milan Lucic and Rasmus Andersson to the box. Calgary got a power play out of it, but did not score.
The Flames led in shots on goal 25-24.
Golden Knights lead Flames after 20 minutes
The Golden Knights needed a strong start against the Calgary Flames. That's what they got.
Vegas started off hot and scored the first period's only goal, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission at home on Sunday.
There was a mad dash in front of the Vegas net in which Marc-Andre Fleury looked like an acrobat flopping around the crease. The Flames' defense pinched and once Nate Schmidt settled the puck, he chipped it out to William Karlsson setting up a 2-on-1 with Max Pacioretty. Karlsson took it himself, sniping it by Cam Talbot at 10:44 to put the Golden Knights up 1-0.
Calgary had a strong chance near the end of the period. Matthew Tkachuk floated in the neutral zone and waited for the puck to come out of his team's zone did. When it did, he tipped the puck away from defenseman Jon Merrill and to the streaking Mikael Backlund, who would have had a breakaway if not for a strong backcheck from Ryan Reaves. He batted the puck away from Backlund to prevent a shot.
The Golden Knights came out buzzing with five shots in the first 2:25 of the game, including a early flurry where Jonathan Marchessault, Nicolas Hague and Cody Eakin all had a shot on net within six seconds of each other. Calgary though tied up the shot count by the midpoint at 7-7.
Calgary held a 13-7 lead in shots on goal.
Golden Knights look to snap losing streak against Flames
The Golden Knights have four home games in a row starting with today's 4 p.m. puck drop against the Calgary Flames, and there's a definite sense of urgency with three of those contests against divisional opponents.
"We're good enough to turn it around and we'll see what happens today," coach Gerard Gallant said. "You look at the last five games we probably could have won three of them very easy. A few more pucks go in, a few more pucks stay out of our net. Every team says the same thing though."
The Golden Knights come into the game ahead of only the Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific, and third from the bottom in the Wild Card race. It's not new to the Golden Knights, who were 8-11-1 after 20 games last season and in even worse shape. They soon rattled off seven wins in nine games to return to respectability and cruised into the playoffs without much trouble.
Last year Vegas benefited from the return of Nate Schmidt from injury, sparking a new injury into the lineup as well as the locker room. With a fully healthy squad, the calvary isn't coming this time.
The Flames are in a similar situation to Vegas. They claimed the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs last season but have stumbled out of the gate this year. Like Vegas, their top players are producing but struggling to find balance throughout the lineup. Goaltending has been solid if not spectacular. Today's game is a big one for both sides.
"You look at the standings, you see two teams that are real talented teams that probably shouldn't be where they are at in the standings but that's the way the game goes," Gallant said. "It's a battle every night and you're going to have to play good to win hockey games."
The Golden Knights will turn to Marc-Andre Fleury in net after starting Malcolm Subban yesterday. They assigned Nicolas Roy and Brandon Pirri to AHL Chicago before the game, giving the team 12 forwards on the roster and ensuring the lineup remains the same up front. Deryk Engelland will join the blue line after sitting the last two games.
And as bad as the Golden Knights' position in the standings is, a regulation win puts them right back into a playoff spot.
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Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-165, Flames plus-140; over/under: 6 (minus-115, minus-105)
Golden Knights (9-9-3, 21 points) (4-4-2 home), seventh place, Pacific Division; sixth place, Wild Card
Coach: Gerard Gallant (third season)
Points leader: William Karlsson (20)
Goals leaders: Reilly Smith (10)
Assists leaders: William Karlsson (14)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.68 GAA, .914 save percentage)
Flames (10-9-3, 23 points) (4-7-1 road), fourth place, Pacific Division; second place, Wild Card
Coach: Bill Peters (second season)
Points leaders: Matthew Tkachuk (20)
Goals leaders: Elias Lindhom, Matthew Tkachuk (10)
Assists leaders: Johnny Gaudreau (13)
Expected goalie: Cam Talbot (2.69 GAA, .907 save percentage)
Golden Knights projected lineup
Max Pacioretty—William Karlsson—Reilly Smith
Jonathan Marchessault—Cody Eakin—Mark Stone
Alex Tuch—Paul Stastny—Cody Glass
William Carrier—Tomas Nosek—Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb—Nate Schmidt
Nicolas Hague—Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill—Deryk Engelland
Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban