The Vegas Golden Knights went into the Christmas break on a roll, having gone 8-0-1 in their last nine contests to overtake the Los Angeles Kings for the top spot in the Pacific Division. Seven of those contests, however, were played inside the T-Mobile Arena. And while there’s no question that the Knights play well at home (they’re 15-2-1 in Vegas), they’ve still yet to prove themselves as a consistent team on the road.
Wednesday night, the Golden Knights had their chance to silence the doubters as they took on the Anaheim Ducks at the Honda Center. The Golden Knights have already defeated the Ducks twice this season and a third victory over their division rival would extend their win streak to five games.
But things didn’t go too great for Vegas to start the contest, though.
Less than two minutes in, the Ducks had Vegas pinned in their own end as Jakob Silfverberg found Rickard Rakell in the slot to give Anaheim the 1-0 lead.
After 20 minutes of play, Anaheim led the Golden Knights 15-8 in shots (and 29-13 in shot attempts) and probably should have led on the scoresheet as well. But Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, who the Ducks basically gave to Vegas over the summer, had something else in mind.
Late in the first period, Vegas finally managed to generate some offense and put some quality shots on net. With just over two minutes remaining, Tomas Nosek found Theodore in space, who lasered one past John Gibson to tie the game up at one apiece.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call a snipe.
As bad as the Golden Knights looked in the first period, though, the tables turned completely in the middle third. And Theodore’s late-period score may have been what shifted the momentum. Vegas led Anaheim 14-7 in shots on goal in the second period and, thanks to Cody Eakin, took a 2-1 lead over their division rival.
With a little under five minutes remaining in the period, the Golden Knights killed off an Anaheim power play. Just as the man advantage expired, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare shot a puck down the ice with Eakin stepping out of the penalty box. Eakin then picked up the loose puck, raced down the ice and beat Gibson five-hole to give Vegas the lead.
For the second time in the contest, Vegas went into the intermission with a good taste in its mouth. And once again, they entered the new period firing on all cylinders.
Just 28 seconds into the final third, Anaheim turned the puck over in their own zone. Jonathan Marchessault, on his 27th birthday, picked up the loose puck and found William Karlsson in the slot, who gave Vegas the two-goal lead. Karlsson is now tied with James Neal for the team lead in goals (17).
The Ducks did their best to keep the contest interesting in the final period, but there was nothing they could do to reduce Vegas’ lead. With just over a minute left in the game, David Perron sealed the 4-1 victory by scoring on an open net, helping improve Vegas’ record to 3-0-0 when facing Anaheim.
The Golden Knights have now picked up at least one point in their last 10 games. Their last regulation loss came against the Winnipeg Jets on Dec. 1.
And to those clamoring to see Vegas win on the road, the Golden Knights are now 9-7-1 in buildings other than the T-Mobile Arena. Not too shabby.
Vegas travels to Los Angeles Thursday for an important game against the Kings in the Staples Center. Los Angeles will be fresh off a four-day break as they look to gain ground on Vegas for the top spot in the Pacific. Facing the Kings on the latter half of a back-to-back is less than ideal, but the Golden Knights have already shown that they’re capable of beating good teams in consecutive days, so expect Thursday’s contest to be a dandy.