Happy New Year. I hope your 2019 is as prosperous as the year prior. The Vegas Golden Knights are likely hoping for such good fortune.
It’s been a crazy year, to say the least, for this franchise; unforgettable moments, a remarkable playoff run; all culminating to where we are now — the Golden Knights are back near the top of the Pacific Division and will enter 2019 with a legitimate chance to defend their Western Conference championship.
But before we close the book on 2018, we need to take a look back.
We compiled a list of some of the most memorable moments/games/plays of 2018 for the Golden Knights. Each KOI staffer that participated created their list, from 10-1. Each moment was given a score out of 10, with the highest being the best moment of the year. With that, this is the list that was created.
Without further ado, here are your top 10 Vegas Golden Knights moments in the year of our lord 2018. I wonder what that would make 2019.
10) William Karlsson’s game-winning goal in Game 3 against the Sharks (April 30)
Can you imagine if goaltender interference was consistent? Wild Bill’s winner in the second-round series would’ve put the Golden Knights up 3-0 in the series.
Vegas led 3-1 in the third period, but allowed two late goals for San Jose to send it into overtime. The Sharks won in double overtime two nights prior; all momentum is with San Jose at this point. With the aid of a fantastic glove save by Marc-Andre Fleury a couple minutes prior, Karlsson took a drop pass from James Neal and fired a laser from the right circle to beat Martin Jones.
Just another notch in the belt of Wild Bill. We’ll see him later.
9) Nate Schmidt’s game-winning goal in Cup Final rematch against Capitals (Dec. 4)
If the Golden Knights’ lockdown defenseman had his way, he’d like this to be six months prior. He was still giddy, and rightfully so.
Schmidt, who was selected by Vegas in the expansion draft from the Capitals, was playing in his ninth game of the season since returning from a 20-game suspension for violating the league’s PED policy. The Golden Knights went into the Cup Final rematch winners of six of eight.
Tied 3-3 with 1:24 to go, Schmidt took the puck through the neutral zone, walked into the Vegas zone and fired a wrister past Braden Holtby for his first goal of the year. He added an empty-netter for a 5-3 win.
He’s worth every bit of that new contract.
8) Marc-Andre Fleury’s outstanding saves in Game 3 against the Jets (May 16)
Does Mark Scheifele still have nightmares about this? Asking for a friend.
Vegas led 3-2 with the series tied at one late the in the third period. The daunting Winnipeg Jets offense was on the doorstep of tying this game. Scheifele had not one, but two chances to tie the game midway through the third period.
The rest is history.
Fleury made a number of huge saves throughout Vegas’ playoff run, but these two were the highlight of his near-Conn Smythe effort.
7) Golden Knights set record for most wins by expansion team in crazy OT win against Jets (Feb. 1)
Speaking of the Jets, the Golden Knights set the NHL record for most wins by an expansion team on this Feb. 1 night.
All you need to do is watch this overtime to find out why this is important.
6) Jonathan Marchessault’s penalty shot game-winner against the Senators (Oct. 28)
The Golden Knights have won in many ways; overtime, double overtime, even a shootout or two.
But a penalty shot? Now you have my attention.
Marchessault was hooked by Senators forward Mark Stone with 2:36 remaining in overtime on a breakaway. He was given a penalty shot; a rarity in Golden Knights lore, being the only attempt in franchise history.
Marchessault walked in on Craig Anderson, sniped it from the slot blocker side and scored the winner. I, personally, call it the Wedding Day Winner for me.
5) Vegas scores three goals in less than a minute to stun the Flames (Jan. 30)
Two nights prior to the Golden Knights having that insane overtime winner against the Jets, Vegas was in Calgary to start a six-game road trip against the Flames. All hell broke loose with less than two minutes to go.
Erik Haula ties it 2-2 with 1:46 remaining after Michael Frolik passed the puck back to Mike Smith, which rebounded back to the tape of Haula’s stick for the goal. Ten seconds later, Marchessault beat Smith top shelf to give Vegas the 3-2 lead.
You’re likely never going to see another sequence like this.
4) Golden Knights win Western Conference championship (May 20)
What more needs to be said? The expansion team that could defeated the Jets in five games to advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Ryan Reaves, once a groan to the Vegas fanbase, scored the winning goal in Game 5.
Not only did the Golden Knights win in five, they won four straight after getting run out of Winnipeg in Game 1. They controlled Scheifele, Laine and Wheeler for the better part of that series. Fleury played out of his mind.
It was another series Vegas wasn’t expected to win. What a time.
3) Erik Haula’s game-winning goal in double overtime against the Kings (April 13)
It was the first time the Golden Knights experienced playing hockey deep into the night in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and it did not disappoint.
Haula’s winning goal at 15:23 of the second overtime gave Vegas a 2-0 series lead against the Kings in the battle of galvanizing goaltenders. As a reminder: Jonathan Quick made 54 saves in a loss. The Kings only mustered 30 shots on Marc-Andre Fleury.
This was a game where Vegas should’ve won, at least, 4-1. Quick was unreal. And Haulalujah (stick tap to our own Jillian Wagner for that) it went Vegas’ way.
2) Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final (May 28)
The atmosphere outside was electric three hours prior to puck drop. Lil Jon put on a damn concert. The atmosphere inside, with the Golden Knights winning 6-4 and taking a 1-0 lead over the Washington Capitals, was absurd.
Sure, the Golden Knights lost four straight and didn’t win the Cup in their first year, but this game will go down in history as one of the best ever played at T-Mobile Arena. This will live in all-time lore until the Golden Knights win a Stanley Cup. Tomas Nosek became a legend this night.
What a game. What a night.
1) William Karlsson’s between-the-legs, division-clinching goal against the Sharks (March 31)
No words. Just watch once more, with feeling. Happy New Year to everyone.