Cheers to Malcolm Subban. The Vegas Golden Knights finally got him one.
Subban made 30 saves for his first victory of the season in six starts, and the Golden Knights defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 at Staples Center on Saturday.
Getting a rare start on the front end of a back-to-back, Subban entered play at 0-5-0 with a 3.49 goals-against average. After a stellar 31-save performance last Monday in Columbus, albeit a loss, Subban earned himself another start in as many days.
With the exception of a goal given up with four seconds remaining in the first period, Subban was stellar, starting with this toe save on Drew Doughty in front of the net.
Early test for Subban, but he keeps the game scoreless. pic.twitter.com/wZ9JsBrGxs— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 29, 2018
Then there was this save on Ilya Kovalchuk that was the true definition of highway robbery.
Holy smokes, what a save by Malcolm Subban. pic.twitter.com/3b7uUtw4kj— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 29, 2018
It’s been a combination of things for Subban’s slow start; bad decisions, not enough goal support, not enough playing time, etc. He got all of that today. It’s the first time in six starts that the Golden Knights have scored more than two goals with Subban in net. Vegas was determined to do better in front of him, and it did just that.
William Carrier, Alex Tuch and William Karlsson scored for the Golden Knights (22-15-4), who have won two straight and have secured a point in nine of their past 10 games (6-1-3). Vegas defeated Los Angeles for the first time in three tries this season.
Paul Stastny added an empty-net goal and had an assist. Tuch also had an assist.
Carrier was bumped up to the third line and did not waste time in making an impact. He redirected Cody Eakin’s shot from the point at 4:55 of the first period to give Vegas a 1-0 lead.
Yes, that is indeed William Aloicious Lamar Carrier IV’s eighth goal of the season.
That's eight on the season for Carrier. pic.twitter.com/DlVJLR3RXN— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 29, 2018
The Kings’ (15-21-3) saw their four-game winning streak come to an end; one of those wins came against Vegas six days ago at T-Mobile Arena. Anze Kopitar scored the lone goal for L.A., his 299th in the NHL, at 19:56 of the first period, to tie it 1-1.
Outside of those final 10 seconds, it was all Vegas.
The Golden Knights re-took the lead at 12:26 of the second period by turning defense into offense. The second-line connection of Stastny and Tuch struck once again. Brandon Pirri forced the turnover, the puck trickled to Stastny, who dropped it to Tuch for the one-timer in the slot and a 2-1 lead.
GOAL. Vegas takes advantage of a Kings turnover and Alex Tuch picks up his 13th goal of the season. pic.twitter.com/axJNovMnAR— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 29, 2018
Vegas had control of the possession chart and shot total over the first two periods; Golden Knights held a 24-15 edge in shots. Subban didn’t see a lot of puck until the third period, but by the time the Golden Knights pushed their lead to 3-1 on Karlsson’s outstanding 15th goal of the season at 3:20 of the third, there was nothing left to be had.
Which was better? The goal, or the pass from Nate Schmidt?
GOAL. William Karlsson scores a beauty on the breakaway to give Vegas the 3-1 lead. pic.twitter.com/trylhUKANK— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 29, 2018
Stastny’s empty-net goal at 17:28 sealed the deal. Pirri’s four-game point streak also came to an end, but Vegas is undefeated when he doesn’t have a point. Silver lining, or something like that.
Jonathan Quick made 28 saves in the loss.
So, here we are at the halfway mark. Twenty games in, the Golden Knights were 8-11-1. Obviously they were missing Schmidt due to his suspension. They’ve also dealt with injuries to top-six guys like Max Pacioretty and Erik Haula. Defenseman Colin Miller has also been out for the past week with an unknown ailment.
But if you were to tell the Golden Knights that they would go 14-4-3 in their next 21 games, sit at 48 points at the halfway mark and possibly go into the next 41 only one point behind the Calgary Flames and San Jose Sharks for first place in the Pacific Division, they’d probably take it.
It’s a far cry from the 29-10-2 they were at last season, but given how this season began for the Golden Knights, it’s a hell of a turnaround.
The Golden Knights will close 2018 out on the road against the Arizona Coyotes at 5 p.m. PT on Sunday.