We all expected a great game, and boy did we get one. After a dominant first period it seemed as if the Vegas Golden Knights were going to run away with it, but the Montreal Canadiens battled back with three goals in the second period to keep things interesting. After that, the two teams kept exchanging goals until Montreal ultimately got the last one. Naturally, that goal came from former Knight Tomas Tatar — who Vegas traded in order to acquire Max Pacioretty.
The Golden Knights’ record now drops to 7-9-1, while the Canadiens sit at 9-5-3.
Pacioretty didn’t have to wait long this season to return to the Bell Centre in Montreal and face his former team. The Canadiens kept it short and sweet, showing a video montage of Pacioretty’s time with the organization on the jumbotron, which was followed by a standing ovation from the crowd.
A warm welcome back to Montreal for Max Pacioretty. pic.twitter.com/EzZm3KoUqa— NHL (@NHL) November 11, 2018
It’s fitting that this was easily Pacioretty’s best game in a Vegas Golden Knights uniform. From the second the puck was dropped, he was a man on a mission. He had five shots on goal in the first period, and nine by the end of the game. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to find the back of the net.
The Golden Knights looked great in the first period, generating a ton of chances and limiting chances in their defensive end. Brad Hunt had a beautiful goal where he showed off his patience and rifled a shot top corner to put the Knights up 1-0.
Excellent patience by Hunt here. What a shot. pic.twitter.com/E4QuwDjQQC— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) November 11, 2018
A couple of minutes later, Reilly Smith tossed a puck in front of the net and it banked off of Jonathan Marchessault’s foot and into the net to put the Knights up 2-0 right before intermission.
GOAL. Reilly Smith's pass deflects off of Marchessault's skate and Vegas takes the 2-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/kIpwJs6MsE— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) November 11, 2018
It was one of the best periods of the season for the Golden Knights as a whole, but as always all good things come to an end. The momentum from the first period didn’t carry over to the second, as the Canadiens scored three goals in the first 10 minutes. Some bad passes were made and some guys were left wide open in front of the net. It happens! Thanks to a goal from Alex Tuch near the end of the second period, though, the game was tied at 3-3 heading into the second intermission.
With an early power play in the third, William Karlsson banked his fourth goal of the season off of Matthew Peca’s body to give the Golden Knights the lead again.
At the midway point of the third period, Max Domi and Jonathan Drouin were performing some sort of wizardry with the puck in the offensive zone which ultimately led to Andrew Shaw burying a rebound to get his second goal of the match and to tie the game at 4-4. A few minutes later, Tomas Tatar scored the game-winner, because why not, right?
This GIF of Pacioretty sums up every Golden Knights’ fan reaction to that goal and even the whole game in general:
I know Max, I can't believe how good Tatar has been either. pic.twitter.com/w32xyGNiu4— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) November 11, 2018
This is a hard game to digest. The Golden Knights looked great at times, but completely lost on occasion. The second line looked amazing and generated a ton of chances. The special teams were on point. Marc-Andre Fleury’s struggles continued, but he still made a couple of big, beautiful saves. His rebound control wasn’t too great tonight, which ultimately led to some goals getting past him.
Overall, it wasn’t a bad performance by the Golden Knights, per se. They started off strong, then the wheels started to fall off as the game came to a close. Nate Schmidt is inching closer and closer to returning to the lineup, and he may be the missing piece to this lineup that’ll put everything in place.
The Golden Knights travel to Boston to face the Bruins tomorrow in the last game of their eastern road trip, and it’s more than likely that we’ll see Malcolm Subban starting in net for just the third time this season.