The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout, 2-1, obtaining 20 road wins, a record for an expansion team, in the process. This was an odd way to obtain a record, but hey, a victory is a victory.
The Knights (44-16-5) won after allowing the first goal of the game in the third period. A bad play by Shea Theodore and the puck wound up in the net. Marc-Andre Fleury was stellar apart from that, making 31 saves, and getting a .969 save percentage.
Deryk Engelland was the hero in regulation, scoring his fifth goal of the season, and David Perron and Erik Haula carried Vegas in the shootout. Engelland was third on the team in time on ice with 21:38 (first in shorthanded minutes with 2:27) and Perron wound up with nearly 21 minutes, going from the second line to the first half-way through. Perron's primary assist on the Engelland goal was number 45 on the season.
The Knights started out dominating the game, with a Corsi difference of 20 versus 11 in the first but got out-generated in the second and third. Still, there weren't many high-danger opportunities on either end, so the goaltender battle made sense.
After the worst five-game stretch in Vegas franchise history, getting two wins in two straight games, no matter how those victories came about, is huge. Don't get me wrong, this was a worse win than the one against the Detroit Red Wings, but with very few games left, the Knights need as many points as they can get.
Engelland scoring was just part of a fantastic game. He and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare combined to make the penalty kill so much better than it has been recently, as they killed two crucial penalties in the second period. The Sabres only got three shots on Fleury during those two penalties, and those two were a big part of it, with neither giving up a high-danger opportunity.
The Knights were getting some chances, but Robin Lehner was just as good as Fleury through regulation, making 33 saves. It took what seems like an accidental goal to beat him, but this is a good goal all the same:
Engelland's intentions are pretty clear: get the puck to William Karlsson, who will likely shoot and score. Instead, Engelland banks the puck off of Marco Scandella and into an unprotected net, as Lehner was out trying to make a play on his own. Not a wise move for a goaltender not named Fleury.
The second line of Haula, Perron, Tomas Hyka, and, at times, Tomas Tatar did a lot of good work in the offensive zone. The combination of Haula and Hyka proved they can play with anyone, and while their defensive zone work needs to improve, given time, there's reason to believe it will.
The Golden Knights have played a lot better hockey more recently, and as the season winds down, that will be a necessity. Still, Reilly Smith can't get back fast enough.
The Knights return to action against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 12, when they'll look to take their winning streak to three games.