The Vegas Golden Knights (41-18-5) kicked off their five-game road trip Sunday afternoon by traveling to Newark, New Jersey and the Prudential Center for the first time in team history to face the red-hot Taylor Hall, he of the 24-game point streak, and his New Jersey Devils (33-24-8).
The Golden Knights entered play on a (tied for) season worst three-game losing streak since the trade deadline and desperately needed to find their way back to what made them so successful in the first 61 games.
The first period didn’t quite go according to plan for the Knights. Though they came out of the gate strong, they ended the first period having been outshot 11-8.
Marc-Andre Fleury, who entered the game on a two-game losing skid himself that saw him manage just a .902 save percentage, was little short of a wall in the opening period. Shaking off the stink of the five goals against versus Ottawa, the Golden Knights netminder stood on his head time and time again to keep the game scoreless through one period.
Marc-Andre Fleury with a huge stop on Taylor Hall. pic.twitter.com/NQE0nLqRk7— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 4, 2018
Fleury makes another big save. pic.twitter.com/ZKGO59QhJn— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 4, 2018
The second period was much kinder to the Golden Knights as they took over the possession game and began creating legitimate offensive opportunities for themselves.
David Perron registered his career-high 58th point on the season with a goal just over four minutes into the frame to break the 0-0 tie. Tomas Hyka picked up his first assist as a Golden Knight on the play, which would become the theme of the evening.
GOAL! David Perron opens the scoring to register his 58th point of the season (a career-high). pic.twitter.com/QWSLcwQeqD— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 4, 2018
The lead would not last long as just over four minutes later, Sami Vatanen, while on the power play following a Jonathan Marchessault interference penalty, would one-time the puck by Fleury to knot the game up at one.
We're tied. Devils win a puck battle in the corner and Sami Vatanen one-times it past Fleury. pic.twitter.com/Lx6jZeRHhx— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 4, 2018
The Golden Knights proved that magic does exist as, just 2:32 minutes later, Ryan Reaves would pick up his first point as a Golden Knight on a goal from noted scorer Deryk Engelland.
GOAL! Deryk Engelland gives Vegas the 2-1 lead! pic.twitter.com/m8I1RvrCPo— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 4, 2018
The Golden Knights then continued with their night of firsts as Tomas Tatar banged home a rebound past Cory Schneider for his first goal (PPG) as a Golden Knight.
Just twelve seconds after Tatar made it 3-1, Taylor Hall found a loose puck behind the Golden Knights net and slickly slid it by Fleury on a wraparound to make it a one goal game. Hall earlier extended his point streak to 25 games on the Vatanen tally. MVP?
Here are both goals.
Tatar sauce. pic.twitter.com/0LqbGnO6oW— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 4, 2018
Devils within one again. Beautiful wraparound goal from Taylor Hall, obv. pic.twitter.com/Rv9D3HqyF9— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 4, 2018
The period without any more fanfare, 3-2 for the Golden Knights.
The third period opened and crawled along slowly and uneventfully. At least, until Erik Haula was absolutely crushed by Kyle Palmieri, sending Haula to the bench in pain and likely causing Golden Knights Nation to hold their collective breath.
The last thing the Golden Knights need is another injury to a regular.
This looks incredibly painful. pic.twitter.com/lYJTVGSQsf— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 5, 2018
Fortunately, Haula would return soon after, so it appears as though the Golden Knights have avoided further catastrophe.
We interrupt your regularly scheduled recap to remind you that Brayden McNabb is very big, and very good.
Brayden McNabb dishes out a big hit on Taylor Hall, which creates a 2-on-1 the other way. pic.twitter.com/o8t9VGdIWO— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 5, 2018
Thank you, enjoy the rest of the recap.
The Golden Knights had a chance to all but ice the game not long after as William Karlsson looked to be in hot pursuit of his 36th goal of the season but was stoned by Schnieder to keep it a one-goal game.
Great chance for William Karlsson, but Schneider stones him. pic.twitter.com/aquVbpbYnP— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 5, 2018
The Devils would pull their goalie for the extra attacker and, as it usually does, utter chaos ensued leading to McNabb taking a delay of game penalty with 3.4 seconds to play, which resulted in one last gasp for the Devils.
Couldn't have read it any better. pic.twitter.com/CIao9j2d5m— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) March 5, 2018
The Golden Knights prevail by a final of 3-2, snapping their three-game losing streak and moving 10 points up in the Pacific division over second-place San Jose.
The Golden Knights and Devils will renew acquaintances in 10 days at T-Mobile Arena in Vegas.