It was the night of the newbies, as three fresh faces in the Vegas Golden Knights lineup carried the team to its fourth win of the season with a 3-1 victory against the Boston Bruins.
Coming into the game, all eyes were on 23-year-old goaltender Malcolm Subban as he made his Golden Knights debut in place of Marc-Andre Fleury, who was placed on injured reserve earlier in the day.
But it was forwards Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov, a pair of AHL call-ups making their Knights and NHL debuts, respectively, who truly stole the show.
Both scored their first career NHL goals in an exciting stretch late in the second frame that saw the Knights take a 2-0 lead.
for the first-time goal scorers. #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/etl9CnZbKg— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 16, 2017
That’s not to take anything away from Subban, who earned his first career NHL win in a solid 21-save performance. He came within 30 seconds of earning his first career NHL shutout before a puck bounced off a teammate and found its way in the back of the net.
With the news that Fleury had sustained a concussion Friday night against Detroit, Subban was thrust into the starter’s crease just 12 days after being claimed off waivers from the Bruins. Subban faced his former team in just his third career NHL start. If not for his steady goaltending early on, this game could have been a completely different story.
But Subban came through with flying colors. He looked comfortable from the beginning, confidently coming out to the top of the crease to challenge shots and calmly maintaining solid positioning.
Defensemen Brad Hunt and Jon Merrill also made their Vegas debuts, filling in for Jason Garrison and Brayden McNabb, who were both healthy scratches. With Fleury, Erik Haula and Jonathan Marchessault all on injured reserve, the team recalled Shipachyov, Tuch and Maxime Lagace, who served as Subban’s backup.
With a lot of moving pieces in the lineup, today’s tilt against Boston was a strong test just five games into Vegas’ inaugural season.
But the Knights did not disappoint, improving the team’s record to 4-1-0.
After a third-period collapse Friday night against Detroit, the Golden Knights delivered a team-wide 60-minute effort against the Bruins, and the results speak for themselves.
The real highlights of this game were the performances of Tuch, Subban and Shipachyov, which earned them the First, Second and Third Stars of the game, respectively.
The turning point in the game was a three-minute stretch in the second period in which Tuch and Shipachyov got Vegas on the board.
Tuch got the party started at 14:38 of the second period. Forcing a turnover in the neutral zone, Tuch came flying into Bruins territory with time and space and made no mistake, roofing one short side for his first career NHL tally.
Just three minutes and eight seconds later, Shipachyov followed suit, netting his first career goal in his NHL debut on a feed from, you guessed it, Tuch. Deryk Engelland earned the secondary assist on the play.
When asked about his milestone goal during the second intermission, Tuch called it a lucky play.
“I barely remember [the play] honestly, it was a pretty fast play, good shift all around, teammates helped me out there and I got lucky [on that strip]. [The] puck bounced out into the middle and I just tried to put it in the open spot, top right. It was a couple lucky bounces, but [I’m] happy it happened and couldn’t be any happier.”
With his first career NHL assist on Shipachyov’s goal, Tuch finished tonight’s game with the first two-point performance of his career. He and Shipachyov demonstrated strong chemistry early on and played very well together on the team’s second line with Brendan Leipsic.
Celly hard, Ship. (cc @AMouldyRock) pic.twitter.com/CiYKafYQOz— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 16, 2017
Aside from one unlucky bounce that brought the Bruins within one goal with under a minute left in the game, Subban was perfect tonight. He didn’t make any flashy saves, but he kept the Knights in the game early and gave the team a chance to win. He finished the game with a 1.00 goals-against average and .955 save percentage, both significant improvements over his 5.82 GAA and .727 SV% from his two previous NHL starts, both with Boston.
The one concern coming out of tonight’s win is that the Knights’ struggles on the power play continued as the team went 0-for-4. On the plus side, however, the team killed off all three of Boston’s power plays, improving the penalty kill rate to 92.8 percent; the Knights now hold the third-ranked PK in the NHL. This will be key moving forward, especially if Fleury is out long-term.
Other Game Notes
- The Knights did not register a shot on goal until almost the 15-minute mark of the first period.
- James Neal’s four-game goal-scoring streak came to an end tonight, though he came within inches of hitting the open net when the Bruins pulled goaltender Tuukka Rask late in the third.
- William Karlsson earned his first point of the year with an assist on Oscar Lindberg’s empty-net goal at 19:46 of the third.
- Keep an eye on David Perron and Colin Miller, who were both slow to get up after taking hits during tonight’s game.
David Perron with an awkward spill into the boards. Slow to get up afterward. pic.twitter.com/WsvlTzYnjT— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 16, 2017
Cheap shot by Kuraly on Miller. pic.twitter.com/UbqppncsAe— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 16, 2017