When goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion against the Detroit Red Wings last week, the Vegas Golden Knights were forced to turn to 23-year-old netminder Malcolm Subban, who the team claimed off waivers from the Boston Bruins just prior to the start of the season. At the time of Fleury’s injury, it appeared the Knights were in a state of emergency without the three-time Stanley Cup winner in the lineup. After all, Subban had only appeared in two career NHL games and totally failed to live up to the lofty expectations of a former first-round draft pick with the Bruins. Was he really prepared to take on a backup role with a new team so quickly?
As things would turn out, yes.
Subban managed to help guide the Knights to a pair of wins in his first two starts against the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres, respectively, with a healthy .911 save percentage and just five goals allowed on 61 shots. Despite the imperfect commencement to his career, Subban’s hot start in Vegas has helped the Knights extend their record to 5-1-0.
Saturday night, Subban tried to keep the momentum going against a tough St. Louis Blues team. He did just that. Unfortunately, he risked his health in the process. Eventually, it would be Oscar Dansk’s turn to be the hero.
The Blues tested Subban early and often before he suffered an apparent lower body injury. Just a few minutes into the first period, Brayden Schenn blazed past the Knights’ defense and had a shorthanded one-on-one opportunity against Subban, who managed to stick out his left pad to negate the breakaway opportunity.
Subban would continue to make impressive saves as the game went on, including this beautiful glove grab on an Alex Pietrangelo slapper from the point.
Subban wasn’t able to stop everything sent his way, though. In the latter half of the first period, Oskar Sundqvist beat Subban on a wraparound attempt that eventually resulted in a goal thanks to a little help from Magnus Paajarvi.
Had it not been for Subban, the Knights likely would have been run out of their own building. At one point in the second period, Vegas was trailing St. Louis 27-6 in shots on goal. But towards the end of the middle period, the Knights finally started getting pucks on net. And guess what. It worked! On a wild sequence in the offensive zone, Reilly Smith slapped one past Jake Allen to tie the game up at one apiece.
Just a few minutes later, it was Colin Miller who beat Allen on a wicked wrister from the right faceoff circle to give the Knights their first lead of the evening. This was also Miller’s first goal of the season.
That’s what you call a snipe.
In the final third, St. Louis would test Subban’s luck. Vladimir Sobotka blasted a rocket at Subban, who made the save, but couldn’t control the rebound. Sobotka picked the loose puck and lofted one on net. The puck was stuck underneath of Subban, whose momentum carried him, and likely the puck, into the net.
It was called no goal on the ice. And after an official review, it was ruled that there was no evidence that the puck had crossed the goal line and into the net. There’s no way to tell for sure, but the Knights definitely got away with one here.
Subban was having quite a night to that point. He stopped 27 of 28 shots and looked quite comfortable in the cage. But just as things were looking up for Subban, this happens.
Subban injured himself in the middle of the third period while stretching out his right pad to make a save. He would end up leaving the game with Dansk taking over in net. In case you’ve lost count, Vegas is now down to their third goalie so far this season.
Dansk’s NHL debut started exactly the way you’d imagine it would. The Blues took advantage of the rookie goaltender and immediately found twine to tie the game up at two.
Dansk needed some time to settle in, but he did eventually find his footing. The game would head to overtime and Dansk managed to pull off this beauty.
And this one.
The real beauty, though, came off the stick of William Karlsson.
Racing down the ice on a 2-on-1 opportunity, Smith was able to saucer one to Karlsson, who blasted one past Allen to ceil the game.
Somehow, someway, the Golden Knights were able to rally the troops and play their best hockey when it mattered most. Despite being outshot 49-22, the Knights somehow managed to keep the puck out of Dansk’s end of the ice and beat a deep St. Louis team in overtime to earn their sixth win of the season. And in case you didn’t know, the Knights have become the first expansion team in NHL history to win six of its first seven games. Which is, um, pretty awesome.
Stay tuned as we gather more information on Subban’s injury, as well as updates on Fleury’s condition. The Knights have a clear issue in net at the moment and it wouldn’t be surprising if they ended up making some sort of move to shape up their goaltending situation.