After an opening 40 minutes which showed both the Vegas Golden Knights and the Edmonton Oilers going through the motions, the latter tapped into a higher gear en route to a 4-3 victory.
The Oilers got things started at 7:03 of the first period, when Ryan Nugent-Hopkins finished off a Connor McDavid and Ty Rattie tic-tac-toe play. On this sequence, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare badly lost his assignment, which caused Deryk Engelland to shift to Rattie, leaving Nugent-Hopkins open on the doorstep:
Welcome back to the lineup, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Oilers take the lead. pic.twitter.com/GGmj02EbYh— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 6, 2018
The second period started off with a bang for the Knights, who came out sharp.
Brayden McNabb scored his fifth goal of the season two minutes into the period, calmly drifting by a uninterested Milan Lucic and snapping home a wrister as the remaining Oilers looked on:
A shade over two minutes later, Brandon Pirri netted his third goal in two games, giving him 32 on the year if you include his AHL tallies. In fact, Pirri’s 29 goals in 54 games with the Chicago Wolves is good for the best goals-per-game mark in the ‘A’ this year (min. 50 games).
GOAL! Brandon Pirri scores his third in just two games as a Golden Knight to give Vegas the lead! pic.twitter.com/h7kZRjmqJp— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 6, 2018
Watch what he didn’t do on that play—dump in the puck. The Knights were guilty of far too many dump-ins, especially in the early going. If you’ve got skill, use it, and that’s what No. 73 did right there. The #FreePirri movement was big during his time with both the Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers — might we see it once again? It’s hard to argue that he’s not one of the top 12 offensive players in the Vegas system.
The third period, though, was one Vegas might like to forget.
Oscar Lindberg looked foolish on a goal from Matt Benning at 1:49, and Vegas more or less ran in place for the next few minutes. A costly penalty from Deryk Engelland culminated in a Mike Cammalleri goal at 10:07, just seconds after Ryan Carpenter had hit the post on a great short-handed effort.
Ty Rattie extended the lead shortly thereafter with a top-shelf snipe following a great McDavid feed. McDavid, as you may know, is the league’s point leader, and added three in this contest, bringing his season total to 106.
Lindberg scored off a beautiful Shea Theodore feed to make things interesting at the 14:37 mark...
...but it would not be enough, as the Knights were unable to tie the game despite having a 6-on-4 for the better part of the final two minutes. Not for lack of trying though:
Brandon Pirri came extremely close to tying the game on that last surge. Amazing save by Cam Talbot. pic.twitter.com/70eHZs0fgy— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) April 6, 2018
Malcolm Subban had another four-goals-against outing in which the Golden Knights relinquished a lead in the final period thanks to three opposition goals. However, no two games are the same, and that could not be more true here.
According to Corsica.Hockey, Edmonton registered 4.23 expected goals in this contest, versus just a 1.90 mark by Vancouver two nights prior (in an extra five minutes, no less). That does more to illuminate his poor night on Tuesday than his slightly above average night here, but you get the idea.
Watch here as he robs Oilers star Leon Draisaitl with more spin than a Washington lobbying firm (folks!):
In other news, Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud played just 16:42 in his NHL debut, but you can’t deny he got a sniff of the action:
Jokes aside, the Bemidji State product acquitted himself just fine in his first appearance, doing little to move the needle, but posting a 51.7 CF% while mainly paired with McNabb. Whitecloud was on-ice for all three Vegas goals and zero Edmonton tallies, for what it’s worth (something? nothing?).
Elsewhere on the ice, William Carrier was up to his old tricks, drawing yet another penalty. How good is he at doing that? Best on the team? Yeah, try best in the league:
The difference between No. 1 (Carrier) and No. 10 (Mathew Barzal) is the same as the difference between No. 10 and No. 622 (Nikolay Goldobin). Carrier also leads in penalty differential (per 60), in case you were curious.
All in all, this was a meaningless game that saw the following players not take the ice: David Perron, Jonathan Marchessault, Marc-Andre Fleury, Nate Schmidt, Reilly Smith and Cody Eakin. I think most Vegas fans should be okay with the outcome. Plus, it may have moved the Oilers further away from good odds at having a No. 1 pick. Again.
The Golden Knights will wrap up their inaugural season on Saturday, April 7 as they stay in Western Canada to take on the Calgary Flames.