It was a night of firsts, as the Golden Knights set a new franchise record in shots on goal with 53. Despite registering 30 more shots than the Senators in regulation, the game required overtime because of the play of Senators goaltender Craig Anderson, who stopped 49 of 52 regulation shots for an incredible .942 save percentage to force overtime.
Two of the three goals Anderson gave up came in the second period when Vegas bounced back from a 2-0 deficit.
First, Alex Tuch netted his first of the season on a coast-to-coast play. He fended off the defenseman before going forehand-backhand and sliding the puck just under Anderson.
GOAL. Alex Tuch gets his first of the season. pic.twitter.com/STb0OKxFoS— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 29, 2018
Then came another first as Ryan Reaves scored on the power play with under two minutes left in the second period to tie the game at 2-2. It was Reaves’ third goal in the last four games.
GOAL. Ryan Reaves ties it up. That's his third of the season. pic.twitter.com/B2kDnEX92Y— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 29, 2018
It was also Reaves’ first career power-play goal in the NHL. As a fourth-liner, he’s not accustomed to getting much time on the power play, if any. Yet Gerard Gallant has elected to use him and his net-front presence over the last few games, just as he did during the postseason. Now it’s easy to see why — Reaves has the ability and willingness to get to and stay at the front of the net, and he uses his size to take advantage of opportunistic rebounds.
Despite trailing once again almost eight minutes into the third period, the Knights took a page out of their 2017-18 playbook by tying it up just 28 seconds later. Tuch scored his second of the season and second of the night as he was able to get just enough of Nick Holden‘s shot from the point to direct it into the net.
GOAL. Alex Tuch scores his second of the night to tie the game. Great deflection off the Holden slapper. pic.twitter.com/qHFrGltTXN— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 29, 2018
Net-front presence was huge for the Golden Knights tonight, as high-danger chances were the only thing leading to goals. While passes were missing and the Knights just weren’t clicking, Tuch and Reaves stepped up.
But overtime required a little bit of finesse, including yet another first.
Marchessault drove hard to the net and forced Ottawa to take a penalty. For the first time in his career, he was awarded a penalty shot, and he knew exactly what to do with it.
GOAL. Jonathan Marchessault wins it on the penalty shot. pic.twitter.com/4bhkLe4mjS— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 29, 2018
Marchessault’s game-winner completed Vegas’ comeback and helped improve the Knights’ record to 5-5-1 on the season.
But tonight’s win didn’t come without a cost, as Cody Eakin left the game after taking this hit from Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki. Eakin did not return to the game.
Cody Eakin takes a huge hit from Mark Borowiecki. pic.twitter.com/J7ldM7CF3J— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 29, 2018
The power play looked better than it has in recent games, though Vegas still went 1-for-5 on the man advantage. That’s because the Golden Knights focused on getting high-danger chances on Anderson and beating him from home plate and Royal Road (the thin stretch of ice from the net straight to the blue line).
But high-danger chances were what the Golden Knights needed to win this game. They totaled five on the power play and 19 across all situations. That’s the style of hockey the Knights need to play this season, and Tuch and Reaves showed that the Knights have the players to do it (there are others on the team that can contribute as well, but we’ll save that discussion for another time).
The defense also looked better, playing a key role in helping the Knights win the possession battle. But there were certainly lapses. For example, after killing off a penalty, Vegas had a breakdown in the defensive end, which led to Ottawa’s go-ahead goal in the third period.
GOAL. Knights kill off the Ottawa power play, but then this happens immediately after Carrier comes out of the box. pic.twitter.com/r6pHU2CDsk— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 29, 2018
In the end, the Knights were the better team. They dominated possession, out-shooting Ottawa 53-22 and taking a 97-39 Corsi battle.
Yet Vegas still had the edge in bad luck, which has been the narrative all season.
Somehow, pucks keep bouncing on the Golden Knights on most opportunities. That has to change, and it’s bound to change considering the concept of regressing to the mean. That being said, the Knights didn’t see their good luck shift last year until the Stanley Cup Final. Hopefully the current cycle will be broken much sooner than that.
In addition to coming away with two points, there were a few other positives to take away from tonight’s game.
First, Tomas Hyka played well in place of the injured Max Pacioretty on the second line. He had an 84.78 in Corsi (39-7), 88.89 in shot share (24-3) and was on ice for all three goals. Also, it’s safe to say that Tuch is officially back, and he was better than Hyka in every category except for the fact that he was only on ice for two of the three goals. Shea Theodore played the most minutes of anyone by more than a minute, and he played a less sheltered role. He was especially effective in helping Vegas to dominate possession when he was on the ice.
Tonight’s win helped Vegas claim seven out of a possible 10 points during the team’s five-game home stand. The Knights will look to keep things rolling as they take on the Predators in Nashville Tuesday night.