The Vegas Golden Knights rallied Tuesday night to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks in a 5-1 victory. After a devastating 5-0 shutout on home ice against the New York Rangers, the victory was needed…and quite refreshing.
The first period was a bit on the slow side. Both teams had plenty of high danger chances, and managed to get 12 shots-on-goal each. However, that wasn’t enough for either team and the first period concluded with no goals.
The second period is where the Golden Knights started to shine. With over 12 minutes left in the period, the Golden Knights were on a power play. William Karlsson won a face off and slid a pass over to Nate Schmidt. Schmidt was looking for an opportunity past a sea of Blackhawks, and fired off a wrist shot.
That wrist shot was deflected, only to be picked up by Reilly Smith off the rebound. With a little forehand and backhand maneuvering (and a lot of patience), Smith tucked the puck past Corey Crawford to get Vegas up on the board first, 1-0.
Honestly, tonight was a wild game, and you’ll see why we say that in a moment. Fueled by the energy from the Smith goal, the team started looking for more scoring opportunities. The next one was a stunner, as Alex Tuch brilliantly (and beautifully) stole the puck from a Blackhawk and passed it off to Deryk Engelland, who got his first goal of the season with a snap shot past Crawford.
2-0…looking pretty good.
With 1:32 to go in the second period, Tuch was sent to the penalty box for slashing. Vegas went on the penalty kill, and we all know how the Golden Knights have been with PKs this year. No surprise, the PK-slaying duo of Smith and Karlsson went charging full steam ahead, and Karlsson snuck a wrist shot past Crawford after a ridiculously beautiful play by Smith. The second period ended with a 3-0 score.
Think the excitement ended there? Think again. Mark Stone set Max Pacioretty up for a great scoring chance, which they took advantage of to get Vegas to 4-0. Then, Ryan Reaves netted a slap shot, making the score 5-0.
As the seconds ticked down, fans could practically smell the sugary glaze of some Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. With 27 seconds left, Dominik Kubalik managed to score past our brick wall Fleury, and the game ended, 5-1.
Patience is Key
Doughnuts are nice, but the real reason a shutout would have been perfect Tuesday night is the same reason it was just an emotional game period. Tuesday was Fleury’s first time playing since his father’s tragic passing in late November. A shutout would have been a great tribute, but a normal victory will suffice. We are all happy to have Flower back.
What helped the Golden Knights out a lot tonight was patience and pacing. Take the Smith goal, for example. He had the rebound, and was just forehanding and backhanding the puck until the opportunity presented itself and then he netted it in.
Karlsson’s short-handed goal was a prime example of exercised patience as well. Smith stole the puck from three different players and took off like a buckshot down the ice. Blackhawks were chasing after him, and no one covered Karlsson. Smith very easily could have taken the shot, which more than likely would have been deflected. Instead, he waited until Karlsson was in position, executed a fantastic pass, and Karlsson was able to get the third goal of the night.
Pacioretty and Stone, that goal showed patience too. Stone walked in to Crawford and could have fired off a shot. That little hesitation he had, however, as he waited for Pacioretty to get in place to tip it in made all the difference.
The Golden Knights will be on the road again as they head to St. Louis to face the reigning Stanley Cup champions on Thursday. We can only hope they take their pacing and patience with them to bring home another W.