Despite goaltender Malcolm Subban being taken off the injured reserve list last week, the Vegas Golden Knights have stuck with fourth-stringer Maxime Lagace in net. And who can blame them? Prior to the Golden Knights’ 5-4 overtime win over the San Jose Sharks Friday night, Lagace had won three straight games and allowed just two goals in each of those contests.
When he let in four goals in just two periods against San Jose, though, it became clear that a change was needed. And in Lagace’s relief, Subban did not disappoint. He stopped every shot (with a little help from the refs) and managed to help Vegas win its fourth game in a row.
Making his first start in over a month against the Arizona Coyotes, Subban continued to look impressive in net.
And once again, he got some help from the officials.
Towards the midway point of the opening period, defenseman Jason Demers scored on a point shot on the power play to seemingly give Arizona a 1-0 lead. However, the goal was immediately waived off due to incidental contact with Subban.
The Coyotes challenged the ruling on the ice, but the call was upheld. Upon further review, it was only made more evident that Derek Stepan had interfered with Subban.
For the remainder of the period, Subban looked terrific in the cage. He stopped all seven of Arizona’s shots and didn’t show even the least bit of rust after being out for the last month.
In the middle period, though, Subban looked totally unbeatable. Despite some quality scoring chances, Subban managed to neutralize every puck sent his way to keep Arizona off the board.
The same cannot be said about Arizona goaltender Scott Wedgewood, however. Despite a solid effort early on, Wedgewood imploded in the second period and allowed three goals in less than two minutes.
It was Tomas Nosek who got the party started for Vegas. Shorthanded, Nosek forced a turnover in the Vegas zone and raced up the ice with Cody Eakin on an odd-man rush. Instead of attempting a cross-ice pass to Eakin, Nosek chose to snipe one past Wedgewood to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead.
About 30 seconds later, William Karlsson, who’s had a monstrous start to the season, beat Wedgewood off the faceoff to register his 13th goal of the season and double Vegas’ lead.
Approaching the period’s halfway point, Erik Haula would extend the Golden Knights’ lead to three goals, which effectively ended Wedgewood’s night. Marek Langhammer would take over in net for the remainder of the contest.
After being horribly outplayed in the middle period, the Coyotes managed to make things interesting in the final third after Oliver Ekman-Larsson wristed one from the point through heavy traffic.
Just after the midway point of the period, Brendan Perlini took matters into his own hands and scored a beauty to cut the Vegas lead in half.
All of a sudden, the Golden Knights were on their heels after taking a commanding three-goal lead. But in the end, it was Subban who held the fort to defend the lead before Jonathan Marchessault scored an empty net goal to solidify the Golden Knights’ fifth straight victory.
Subban ended up stopping 23 of the Coyotes’ 25 shots to earn his fourth win of the season in his first start since suffering that lower body injury against the St. Louis Blues in October. After this performance, it certainly appears the Golden Knights’ troubles in net are over, as I violently bloody my knuckles on a wooden two-by-four.