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Year 2, Game 16: Golden Knights survive Ottawa with 5-3 win behind fourth line

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Two power-play goals, two goals by defensemen, two goals by the fourth line. Well that was fun.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Ottawa Senators
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore (27) celebrates his power-play goal with William Karlsson and Brad Hunt
Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

The fourth line scored the final two goals. When the Vegas Golden Knights had collapsed early in the third period, the fourth line stepped up for the final two goals. That’s a huge moment, but it’s not surprising. After all, the fourth line has been one of the best lines for Vegas so far this season. Tonight, they proved it.

The Golden Knights won 5-3 after a tremendous start to the game. Jonathan Marchessault scored on the power play after a great pass by Colin Miller and Shea Theodore scored his second goal of the season, leading Knights defensemen. Nick Holden, his defensive partner, would add the third in the second period, although Vegas dropped a goal.

Then the third period did not go so well before it did. Thank god for William Carrier, who actually managed to put a good shot in the net. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare’s goal was more controversial, standing after a goaltender interference challenge, but stand it did.

The collapse shows some important issues the Golden Knights need to address - namely, own-zone turnovers and lackadaisical defense, but for now, enjoy the win. Those have been harder to come by this season than would be preferred. Vegas is 7-8-1.

Recap

Marchessault starts the game off with this goal:

That’s a sick shot by Marchy and it’s a smooth pass from Colin Miller, who sees the play developing.

But then another of Vegas’ power play weapons does this, extending his point streak to five games:

Just that half-slap from the point with an excellent screen from Reaves.

Then Holden does this, an excellent drive to the net where he somehow manages to weave his way to the high-danger area.

That’s what Vegas’ defensemen need to do more of. If Holden can do it, even against the Ottawa Senators, you’re telling me that Theodore and Miller aren’t talented enough to do it? With their skating, their speed, and their play?

It’s hard to determine what goal is the most representative of what went wrong for Vegas after Holden’s goal. The second was entirely luck — the puck takes weird bounces that help it somehow find the right Senator.

Brad Hunt has an optimal chance to make the play, but he can’t. Everyone is converging on the same location, but nobody’s there to stop Matt Duchene. It’s just a bad goal across all parties, and it allows the Senators back into the game.

After three goals, however, Carrier does this.

What a play from somebody who really isn’t known for scoring. He finds a way around Mark Borowiecki, embarrassing him, and gets the puck around Craig Anderson. It’s a great play that shows there’s more than one scorer on the fourth line.

After Bellemare’s controversial goal, the defense holds and the Knights win.

Analysis

It was an 8-7 giveaway battle. Fortunately, the Golden Knights were on the right side, but it could have been a lot worse. Of those seven giveaways, four were from defensemen. That’s not good, and it means that a lot of chances were being given up within the Knights’ zone.

The Knights allowed 22 shots at 5-on-5 in this game. It was an 11-11 high-danger battle, both bad news for the Vegas defense — that number needs to go down — and bad for the offense (with a 73-42 Corsi battle and 39-22 shot competition, the Golden Knights need more of those chances to be high danger).

A 3-3 game at even strength isn’t a win through most of the games the Golden Knights have played this season. Luckily, the power play came up in a big way. Both Marchessault’s goal and Theodore’s were necessary in the win, and come from players who are expected to deliver.

Still, the power play had zero high-danger chances for and just three shots in 2:03 time on ice. Both goals came from a rather long distance, something the Golden Knights cannot rely upon in the future. While the lack of overall time likely prevents a good number of high-danger chances, zero before the goals should not be acceptable.

The Golden Knights won this game in one very simple way; they were the better team. In most games this season, they have been. They dominate possession, allow few chances on the inside and scatter the offense to the winds.

Puck luck has worked against them this season, however, and they’ve been one of the bottom teams in the league for the past month. That changed in this game, with a 11.9 shooting percentage. That’s a good indicator of where the Golden Knights’ average percentage should be headed. This could be just the start.