The Vegas Golden Knights have continued their winning streak, even with both of their NHL goaltenders missing. It was Oscar Dansk’s turn to step up, and boy, did he. He stopped 29 pucks, and after a fluky early goal, recovered nicely until the game was well within hand.
Again, as said in the recap, a lot of credit goes to goaltending coach Dave Prior, who has worked a lot of magic with all three goaltenders so far this season. But a lot of credit belongs with Dansk himself, who stepped up to make some pretty big saves as well as some pretty saves.
The Golden Knights are the first team in the 100-year history of the NHL to win seven of their first eight games and have shown no signs of slowing down.
Much like their game against the Buffalo Sabres, the Golden Knights built up a 4-1 lead in the third period, but this time, the Knights didn’t let it slip. They held the Chicago Blackhawks to just one more goal, too late to mean anything. Even in victories, there are lessons to take away.
Marc-Andre Fleury, Take Your Time
The best thing to takeaway from Dansk’s excellent performance is that there should be no reason to rush Marc-Andre Fleury back from his concussion. He can take his time, get healthy, and then when he’s 100% again, come back to lead this team. Dansk showed that he has what it takes to play against the best, and his saves show he has an excellent future.
Now, if you had told me that when he was losing a 6-5 game in the AHL, I would have stared in bewilderment at you. But then Dansk comes up with performances like he has against not just the Blackhawks, but also in the end against the St. Louis Blues, and you realize how special it is to have three NHL-ready goaltenders on this roster. Maybe Maxime Lagace too—this team is wacky.
The Special Teams Are Alright
The penalty kill was something to behold tonight. Not only did the Knights hold the Blackhawks’ power play scoreless, they created chances on the other end. Those chances may have even been better than those of the Blackhawks, and Chicago was at the advantage.
The Golden Knights are loaded with potential penalty killers, and that has proved to be a great thing. They’ve killed off eight straight penalties now—that’s another streak to pay attention to.
The power play also had two? One? Two? goals. It’s confusing, because Jonathan Marchessault’s goal in his return came either with one second left on the man advantage or just as it was expiring (depending on your source). And another goal, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s game-winner, was scored right after the power play.
The key to the power play the first time was putting bodies in front of the net. William Karlsson’s tally came off a deflection, but it was a dual-screen, with Alex Tuch planted right in front of Corey Crawford. The second time, Marchessault just hit an excellent snipe, showing off his ability that led him to net 30 goals last year with the Florida Panthers.
The fourth line, besides Dansk, were the stars of this game. They did every job handed to them, including getting points and choking the offense out of the Chicago Blackhawks at even strength. The line of Bellemare, Tomas Nosek, and William Carrier was the most important line for the Knights, and they beat their best game of the season, just two games ago (vs. Buffalo).
That line is getting better and better. All three had at least one point against the Blackhawks, and Bellemare once again proved himself as the main penalty killer at the forward position. There are not enough good things to say about these three guys in the last game, so I’ll do it through statistics.
Bellemare was one of just two centers over 50% at the faceoff circle tonight, and he took more faceoffs than Oscar Lindberg. The line generated three shots on net, and two goals, and Bellemare generated shorthanded chances all night. He earned his 18th career goal, and his third game-winner.
But a word of warning—if you find yourself around head coach Gerard Gallant, do NOT call them the “fourth line.” You can thank us later.