Paul Stastny picked up his first two points as a Golden Knight in a thrilling 4-3 overtime win against the Rangers, including an assist on Alex Tuch’s game-winning goal 2:11 into overtime.
The Golden Knights played one of their best road games of the season, but it was the stellar play of Henrik Lundqvist in a wild back-and-forth middle frame that kept this one close, ultimately requiring extra time.
The Sunday matinee did not get off to a promising start, as Brady Skjei gave the Rangers a 1-0 lead just 1:13 into the game.
King Henrik didn’t help matters, completely robbing William Karlsson on at least four occasions throughout the game, including on this opportunity in the first.
Henrik Lundqvist robs William Karlsson. pic.twitter.com/7y6s5Purjn— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
Despite holding a 27-9 edge in Corsi in the first period, the Knights were only able to get one by Lundqvist, and it was a strange one at that.
Reilly Smith capitalized on what can only be described as a hand-wrapped gift from the hockey gods, tying the game on the power play later in the first.
GOAL. Knights score on the power play. Unsure if the goal will be awarded to Colin Miller or Reilly Smith. pic.twitter.com/uMo6yQa7hA— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
The puck bounced off the boards and into the crease, where Smith got his stick on it before it bounced off Lundqvist’s skate and into the net.
Miller's slapper goes off the glass and right back into Lundqvist's crease. Reilly Smith may have jammed it home, but hard to tell. pic.twitter.com/duOC3gwSmd— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
Things opened up considerably in the second period, partly thanks to some blown coverages by Rangers defensemen, leaving Knights skaters wide open in the slot on numerous occasions. But Lundqvist was having none of it.
Vegas' fourth line gets a 3-on-1, but Lundqvist stands tall. pic.twitter.com/FH4xiJaQZ6— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
Marchessault springs Karlsson for a breakaway, but Lundqvist turns Wild Bill's shot aside. pic.twitter.com/3aC3C6Tbhh— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
Excellent defensive play by Will Carrier leads to a Vegas rush. Jon Merrill gets a golden 1-on-1 opportunity with Lundqvist, but Hank wasn't losing that battle. pic.twitter.com/iX31p9mG5s— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
William Karlsson redirects Shea Theodore's shot, but Lundqvist gloves it anyway. pic.twitter.com/Izf11Gcitz— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
Or at least very little of it.
If not for Lundqvist, this game would have been over in the second period. Eventually, though, there was only so much he could do, as his defensemen left Stastny all alone in front of the yawning cage.
The All-American line of Stastny, Tuch and Max Pacioretty had an excellent game, including putting home this beauty for Stastny’s first of the season, giving Vegas its first lead of the game just over six minutes into the second period.
Was only a matter of time before the second line produced a goal. They've been generating some good chances so far. pic.twitter.com/bPRF41YFhs— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
It was the first time all season Vegas was able to ice this line because of injuries, but the trio looked rock solid, generating multiple grade-A scoring chances and teaming up for two goals in the contest.
The line actually came close to grabbing another one in the second period, but an early whistle prevented this Tuch goal from counting.
The USA line gets another good chance. Early whistle by the official negates what likely could have been a goal. pic.twitter.com/CtKXIoxZuM— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
Mika Zibanejad converted a power-play strike on a shot from the point later in the frame, but the Knights would reclaim the lead just 62 seconds later when William Carrier stripped Lias Andersson of the puck and scored on the ensuing two-on-one.
GOAL. Will Carrier takes the puck away in the neutral zone and generates at 2-on-1 to beat Lundqvist. pic.twitter.com/cSzYlxfuGm— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
Naturally, since it was a see-saw afternoon, Chris Kreider knotted things up early in the third. Back and forth we go.
The difference this time was that Kreider’s goal seemed to ignite the Rangers, who seemingly had all the momentum in the third (relatively speaking; the Knights still held the Corsi advantage for the third straight period, this time 22-15).
But that just meant it was Marc-Andre Fleury’s turn to step up, and step up he did. He made 27 saves on the afternoon, including several critical stops on the penalty kill in the third. Though neither team was able to grab the deciding goal in regulation, Tuch took care of business just over two minutes into extra time.
Stastny fed the puck to Tuch down low on an odd-man rush, and Tuch was able to beat Lundqvist from an odd angle to give the Knights the 4-3 overtime win, thus extending Vegas’ point streak to four games.
GOAL. Alex Tuch wins it in over time. Nice feed from Stastny. pic.twitter.com/r4AtJOg5MU— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 16, 2018
It was the second consecutive game in which the Knights ended up in overtime after blowing a third-period lead, but unlike Friday in New Jersey, the Knights came out on top in this one.
Fleury, making his 13th consecutive start, stopped 27 of 30 shots for a .900 save percentage en route to securing his league-leading 19th win of the season; he is now tied with Tony Esposito for ninth overall on the all-time wins list (432).
It was an encouraging performance from the much-anticipated second line, and Vegas outplayed the Rangers for most of the game despite what the final score may suggest. All four lines were rolling, including the new-look fourth line with Tomas Nosek in place of Ryan Reaves, who was scratched in today’s tilt.
If not for Lundqvist, Karlsson could have had at least a hat trick in this one, so while he was unable to fool his fellow Swede, the fact that he had so many great chances is a good sign for Vegas moving forward.
This is especially true since Wild Bill will be particularly hungry against his former team tomorrow night as Vegas closes out its four-game road trip in Columbus.