Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021 | 2 a.m.
The Golden Knights are no longer in their infancy as an NHL franchise.
Vegas will open its fifth season at 7 p.m. tonight at T-Mobile Arena against the Seattle Kraken, the NHL’s new expansion team, with a healthy amount of history that feels beyond its years. With playoff berths in every season in franchise history — which has made for nearly an additional season’s worth of games — the Golden Knights have put together a short-but-storied run so far.
They’ve also had two head coaches, two players who finished within the top 10 in MVP voting and now two goalies who have dominated the net. There’s more than enough data to dive into, so we decided to do just that and look into the statistics accumulated over hundreds of games by dozens of players.
Here are some of the most interesting all-time leaders, best streaks and quirky stats from the Golden Knights’ first four regular seasons (postseason stats were not included).
Odds and ends
Buoyed by their tremendous 2017-18 campaign, William Karlsson or Jonathan Marchessault is the Golden Knights leader in goals, assists, points, plus/minus, power-play goals, power-play points, game-winning goals and shots.
But a few names pop up you might not expect. The Golden Knights’ all-time leader in penalty minutes? Not Ryan Reaves, but Brayden McNabb, whose 160 penalty minutes edge Reaves by two and Marchessault by one.
And the leader in power-play assists isn’t even close — Shea Theodore’s 43 clears Marchessault by 13 and Karlsson by 15.
Karlsson has seven short-handed goals and seven short-handed assists while Reilly Smith is second in both categories with six apiece. Third on the list, though, you might not get — Cody Eakin has four short-handed goals, to rank third, and Paul Stastny are the only other players with multiple short-handed assists.
While we’re on the topic of penalty-killing, three defensemen have short-handed goals: McNabb and Jon Merrill, who are rotation penalty-killers, but also Theodore, who netted his in 11:31 of short-handed ice time in 2019-20. Colin Miller also has one in the postseason, one of four short-handed playoff goals by Vegas and the only by a defenseman.
The Golden Knights have been credited with 162 game-winning goals in their history, and more than half (89) have come from six players: Marchessault (19), Karlsson (16), Max Pacioretty (16), Alex Tuch (15), Reilly Smith (12) and Mark Stone (11). There’s not too many shockers in the players who have scored game-winning goals — even Vadim Shipachyov had one in his three games.
What is a little surprising is those who haven’t. Nick Holden doesn’t have one, and his 139 games as a Golden Knight rank as the most without potting a winner. Nicolas Hague doesn’t have one in 90 games either. But they’re defensemen.
Oscar Lindberg scored 13 times in Vegas, but none were credited as the winner in any of his 98 games, by far the most games by a forward without one (Keegan Kolesar is next at 45).
Only two players on the current roster have registered a five-point game. Stone and Pacioretty have both crossed the five-point barrier multiple times in their careers, and no other Golden Knight has done it even once.
Pacioretty has two five-point games, while Stone has a whopping four, including two with Vegas. Stone had two goals and three assists in a Feb. 6, 2020, game in Florida, then set a team record with five assists (all primary) on March 1 last season at home against the Wild.
Players with four-point games are the usual suspects: Stone and Pacioretty have done it, as have Karlsson, Marchessault, Smith, Alex Pietrangelo and Theodore. One other name? Nolan Patrick, who had a two-goal, two-assist game two seasons ago.
Do you think you could name all four players to have appeared in only one game with the Golden Knights? Hint: three of them are goalies, and three of them are still with the organization.
The goalies are Logan Thompson, Garret Sparks and Dylan Ferguson, all of whom appeared in emergency roles. Thompson and Ferguson are still with Vegas, and could prop that total up.
Sparks is gone, meaning unless he resigns with the organization he’ll forever be tied for the fewest times ever appearing for the Golden Knights (minimum one).
Thompson holds the record for least ice time, with a whopping 8:15, just edging out Ferguson’s 9:14.
And then there is skater Jimmy Schuldt, who played in the season finale of the 2018-19 season after signing as a college free agent. He did pick up an assist, meaning he’s not the only skater to play but not record a point. That honor belongs to Jake Bischoff, who appeared in four games in 2019-20.
Shots and goals
Would it surprise you to learn that the Golden Knights have given up eight goals more than they’ve scored eight goals? It’s true — Vegas scored eight goals on Nov. 27, 2018 in Chicago, the only time it has netted that many. Eight is also the team record for goals allowed, but it’s happened twice and not since the inaugural year: Nov. 11, 2017, against Edmonton and March 14 against New Jersey.
The shots recorded skew more toward the Golden Knights. Vegas fired 54 shots on the Ottawa net on Oct. 17, 2019, the most ever in a regular season game — yes, it did go to overtime. The most ever allowed was 49, another overtime game against the Blues on Oct. 21, 2017 (somehow, a Vegas win).
Vegas had a team-low 17 shots on Dec. 12, 2018, against the Islanders (a win), and allowed the Coyotes a mere 14 shots on April 11 last season, a 1-0 win.
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury joked after that game: “It got lonely sometimes back there by myself. It was nice to get the win in the end.”
Flower field of records
Fleury holds just about every team goaltending record, single-season or career, except for one.
Fleury’s 192 appearances in a Vegas uniform are the most by anyone, with Malcolm Subban’s 63 a distant second. Only eight goalies have ever appeared for Vegas, and as mentioned above three of those only appeared once. Oscar Dansk has only six.
So yeah, Fleury is the Golden Knights’ leader in games played, games started, wins, losses, shots faced, saves, shutouts and save percentage while with Vegas. He also has the single-season record for all those, most of which came in the 2018-19 season when he started 61 games. Last year he set new marks in save percentage (.928) and goals-against average (1.98).
The record Fleury doesn’t have? It’s kind of a trick question, to be fair.
Robin Lehner has only made 22 regular season appearances with Vegas, but his 2.20 goals-against average is better than Fleury’s 2.41 (I guess if you want to get super nitpicky we could also include Logan Thompson, who didn’t allow a goal in his half-period in relief.
There’s only one full month in the regular hockey calendar (October through March) where Vegas has not accumulated double-digit regular season losses. That’s December, when Vegas’ 29-8-6 record is its best all-time, lifted by a 2017-18 season when it went an astonishing 11-1-1.
The Golden Knights’ most wins all-time come from March, when they are 32-16-4 after a 12-5-0 mark in 2021. It’s one of three months when Vegas has played four times, after the pandemic messed with April, October, November and December of 2020, while also adding a May appearance in 2021.
Vegas’ worst month is November, with as many wins as losses all-time at 21-17-4. That’s slightly above a .500 points percentage, but an even .500 in true wins and losses. The worst individual month ever was February 2019 with a 5-7-1 mark. You’ll remember that as the month Vegas won three of its first 11 games, traded for Mark Stone and never looked back.
Karlsson has the best plus-minus in team history, skating to a plus-80 in 283 games over the organization’s four seasons. His plus-49 in 2017-18 led the league.
Smith, Marchessault, Nate Schmidt and McNabb round out the top five, all thanks to spectacular inaugural campaigns. There are some good numbers on here, but it’s more fun to look at the poor numbers.
Because as good as that top line was in the inaugural year, no one else’s numbers were quite as good. Erik Haula had a career year with 29 goals and 55 points, but was a team-worst minus-16. James Neal was a minus-11, and despite a team-record 50 assists, David Perron finished as just a plus-1 for the season.
But the winner (loser?) for most extraordinary plus-minus goes to 2018 trade deadline acquisition Tomas Tatar, who tied with Neal for second-worst on the team at minus-11 in just 20 games. He played just eight playoff games and was traded to Montreal in September.
The longest winning streak in team history was achieved just last season, picking up 10 in a row from April 9-28. The previous best was eight, which had been achieved twice.
That wasn’t the longest points streak though, as Vegas went 13 games in a row during 2017-18 without a regulation loss. The Golden Knights won four in row from Dec. 3-9 (one in overtime, two in a shootout), lost in a shootout to the Hurricanes on Dec. 12, then rattled off eight wins in a row from Dec. 14 through Jan. 2.
The longest losing streak was five games, which has happened twice and not since Nov. 7-16, 2019. That included an overtime loss to start the streak, which included one of three times in team history the Golden Knights have lost four regulation games in a row.
In four seasons, it’s fairly remarkable that Vegas has never had a regulation-loss streak longer than four games. The most recent was Jan. 7 through Jan. 14, 2020. That, of course, led to the dismissal of Gerard Gallant as head coach and ushered in Pete DeBoer.
The Sun’s Case Keefer contributed to this report.