Coming off a convincing 4-1 victory over the Buffalo Sabres, the fresh, rested Golden Knights hosted an ailing, but hungry Anaheim Ducks squad that currently leads the Pacific Division with 11 points. However, despite the Ducks currently standing atop the division, you wouldn’t have been able to tell based on their game against the Golden Knights alone.
Vegas absolutely had its way with the Ducks. Forward William Karlsson opened the scoring late in the first period before Ryan Reaves potted his first goal of the season to give Vegas the comfortable two-goal lead. Anaheim made somewhat of a late push, but Marc-Andre Fleury remained focused to earn his third straight victory.
Fourth line dominates
The Golden Knights’ first line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith typically gets the praise as Vegas’ most effective line, but the trio of William Carrier, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Ryan Reaves took that title Saturday night.
Anaheim simply had no answer for Vegas’ physical fourth line. Carrier, Bellemare and Reaves all logged a downright superb 66.67 Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5 against the Ducks, which led all Golden Knights forwards by a pretty decent margin. The fourth line produced a plethora of scoring chances, and it wasn’t all that surprising when one of them finally got by standout Anaheim netminder John Gibson.
This marks the second game in a row that Vegas’ fourth line dominated play. The trio may not always get a ton of ice time, but they’ve been nothing short of exceptional as of late.
“You gotta give them credit,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said of Vegas’ fourth line after the game. “They hustled and they worked and they outworked us.”
Ryan Reaves particularly impressive
There may not be anyone on Vegas’ roster playing as well is Reaves is currently. Not only did Reaves score his first goal of the season Saturday night, but his physical play on the forecheck was an absolute treat to watch. On the play below, Reaves laid the body on an unsuspecting Hampus Lindholm deep in the offensive zone to jar the puck loose. Though Reaves was unable to make a play out of Lindholm’s turnover, he stayed aggressive and denied an attempted Anaheim clear just seconds later.
Reaves’ possession metrics were stellar as well. The former Blue and Penguin led all Golden Knights forwards with his 66.67 CF% at 5-on-5 and also led all Vegas skaters not named Colin Miller with a ridiculous nine high-danger scoring chances.
The 31-year-old was also awarded the first star of the night, so that’s pretty neat.
Reaves may not be the typical offensive playmaker, but it’s hard not to be impressed with how he’s been playing.
Power play converts in second consecutive game
It took Vegas 17 tries to finally convert on the man advantage this season. Now, the Knights have scored power-play goals in two straight contests. Funny how things work, eh?
William Karlsson scored the tally, giving him two goals in as many games. While engaged with Lindholm in front of the Anaheim net, Wild Bill managed to redirect a Jonathan Marchessault wrister past Gibson to give Vegas the 1-0 lead late in the first period.
While the Golden Knights looked anything but efficient on the man advantage to start the season, it certainly feels like things are starting to come together. Granted, Vegas only managed to convert on one of their five chances on the power play Saturday night, but that one goal ended up making a pretty huge difference against their division rival.
Fleury rarely tested, but strong yet again
The Golden Knights peppered John Gibson with a whopping 45 shots Saturday night. Fleury, on the other hand, wasn’t quite as busy. And while an untested goalie can sometimes “fall asleep” in net, Fleury remained locked in to flirt with a shutout for the third game in a row.
While Fleury didn’t end up getting that shutout, he did earn his third straight victory and even made some history, passing Glenn Hall for sole possession of 10th all-time in NHL goalie wins.