That wait wouldn’t be long, though.
Monday night, the Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 to officially punch their ticket to the postseason. At home. In front of 18,326 fans.
Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson both had three-point nights as Marchessault broke the 70-point barrier and Wild Bill potted his 40th (fortieth) goal of the season. Marc-Andre Fleury also had a big night, stopping 28 of 29 shots and tying Grant Fuhr for 11th all time in goalie wins.
And let’s also not forget about head coach Gerard Gallant, who earned the 200th win of his career as well. Not bad!
It was a magical night for the Golden Knights. After being deemed the favorite to finish the season in the basement of the Pacific Division, Vegas is now headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in its inaugural season. You can’t make this stuff up, folks.
Let’s look at how Vegas managed to shake off Colorado to earn their spot in the postseason, shall we?
After an uneventful first period (at least in terms of scoring), the Golden Knights broke the ice early in the middle third just seven seconds into their second power play of the night as Alex Tuch knocked a rebound past Semyon Varlamov to give Vegas the lead.
Colorado would eventually respond, though, as Erik Johnson beat Fleury off a rebound to tie the game up. Vegas challenged the score for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice was upheld despite Blake Comeau clearly making contact with Fleury.
It didn’t take Vegas long to reclaim the lead, though. Less than a minute after Colorado’s goal, the Avs were assessed a double minor after Tyson Jost caught Pierre-Edouard Bellemare in the eye with a high stick.
After going to the locker room for repairs, Bellemare returned in the final period with a new look!
On that four-minute power play, Marchessault gave Vegas a lead it wouldn’t give up.
Marchessault’s goal gave Vegas a ton of momentum going into the third period, and, predictably, the Golden Knights played as such.
Just 1:31 into the final third, Shea Theodore beat Varlamov with a snipe from the high slot to give Vegas the 3-1 lead.
Colorado created a few nice chances that kept the game interesting, but Fleury was having none of it, stopping every shot thrown his way in the final period.
Vegas had the game in the bag with time dying down, but to top their win off, Wild Bill scored with Varlamov on the bench to notch his 40th tally of the season.
His previous career-high in goals? Nine.
Vegas held Colorado off for the remainder of the contest to win it 4-1. From there, the party was on.
We already knew Vegas was the best expansion team in NHL history. And now that they’re headed to the playoffs in their first season as an actual, existing franchise, well, that kind of speaks for itself.
I could go on and on for hours about who Vegas could face in the playoffs and which teams they match up best against, but for right now, it’s time to celebrate. This team of castoffs, from the players all the way up to the head coach, is doing something special. And we’re just lucky enough to be watching it unfold right in front of our very eyes.
Folks, let’s get drunk.
We’re going to the ‘yoffs.