The Vegas Golden Knights’ last game against the New Jersey Devils didn’t quite go according to plan. After taking an early 3-0 lead in the first period and forcing Cory Schneider to the bench, the Knights took their foot off the gas and ended up allowing four unanswered goals in the game’s second half to lose 5-4 in overtime.
Sunday afternoon, the Knights had a chance to avenge their previous loss to Devils, and not only did they do just that, but they gave New Jersey a taste of its own medicine.
The Devils came out the gate hot with two goals in the game’s first 10 minutes. From there, though, it was all Vegas (at least in terms of goal scoring). The Knights scored three unanswered goals, including Brayden McNabb’s first of the season, to take their first lead of the contest. And thanks to the stellar play of Malcolm Subban, Vegas managed to hold on and pick up its sixth consecutive victory since the holiday break.
Subban rebounds after rough start
Goaltender Malcolm Subban has been seeing a lot more action recently. After starting just four games in the first two months of the season, Subban has now played in three games since Dec. 17. His most recent start ahead of Sunday afternoon, a 31-save performance against the Los Angeles Kings on Dec. 29, earned Vegas its second victory of this current winning streak.
Despite Sunday being Subban’s first home start of the season, he didn’t get off to the hottest of starts. The 25-year-old allowed a pair of goals less than 10 minutes into the contest, and neither goal was particularly pretty on Subban’s part. But from that point on, Subban was perfect, stopping all 33 of New Jersey’s shots (20 of which came in the third period) for the remainder of the game.
“Subby’s been playing awesome,” said defenseman Brayden McNabb. “Early in the year when he started, we didn’t show up for him. He kept us in there, but we weren’t scoring. We were playing pretty bad defensively, so it’s good to finally get him in there. Last three outings he’s been outstanding. It’s good to see him get a win.”
In Subban’s last three starts, he’s made 96 saves on 100 shots and earned a pair of wins. He’s finally seeing more time in the net, and he’s proving that he deserves it.
Daddy Patches scores for the second straight game
The last few days were pretty big for Max Pacioretty and his family. After Vegas’ win on Friday against the Ducks, Pacioretty was in a rush to get back home to see the birth of his fourth child. Luckily, he made it home just in time and was still able to suit up against the Devils.
“It was a great week for my family,” said Pacioretty. “My wife was a trooper battling in there. You know, me being on the road, the team did a great job of making sure we rushed back in time so I can be there for the birth of my son. And tonight was a great game from the group all around. We’re happy to keep this thing going.”
A great game for the team and a great individual game for Pacioretty. Not only are the Golden Knights undefeated — 1-0 — since the birth of Pacioretty’s fourth child (fist pump to you, little man), but Pacioretty also scored in the contest, picking up his 12th goal of the season, which ended up being the game-winner.
Pacioretty’s dad powers were strong Sunday afternoon.
Reaves stands out for two very different reasons
Ryan Reaves’ performance was a rollercoaster, to say the least.
Not long after Ben Lovejoy netted New Jersey’s second tally of the game, Reaves answered with a goal of his own — a five hole trickler that he created on his own, thanks to a nice stick check at the New Jersey blue line.
It was a good start for No. 75, but things got a bit weird with 3:22 remaining in the third period. Reaves was sent to the penalty box tripping New Jersey’s Blake Coleman, giving the Devils a golden opportunity to tie the game. Luckily, Vegas’ penalty kill stepped up and helped Malcolm Subban keep the puck out of the net.
In an effort to make up for his tripping penalty, Reaves then tried for the empty-netter. He shot the puck toward the open cage, but the shot went high — about 15 feet too high. Reaves’ shot was off by so much that he was assessed a delay of game penalty. With 1:02 remaining, Vegas’ penalty kill had to get back to work again. And again, they kept New Jersey off the board.
After the contest, Reaves had a pretty excellent response to his late-game gaffe.
Power play continues to struggle
The Golden Knights received a pair of chances on the power play Sunday and were unable to convert on either of them. The power play has been nothing short of abysmal recently, and it’s starting to become an issue.
Vegas is now 0-for-16 on the man advantage since returning from the holiday break. Paradoxically, they’ve won each of their six games during that span.
The Knights’ power play is currently ranked 17th in the NHL. With stars like Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Paul Stastny on the ice, goals shouldn’t be as hard to come by as they have been — especially with an extra attacker on the ice.
As time died down in the second period, Knights winger Reilly Smith appeared to have suffered a leg injury of some sort.
As captured in the video below provided by Jesse Granger of The Athletic, Smith and Ben Lovejoy were battling for a puck in the corner when their knees appeared to have clipped. Smith continued to battle until the horn sounded, but he soon after reached down and grabbed his leg.
Here's where Reilly Smith may have been injured, at the end of the 2nd period. Forgive the choppy video, but Smith bends over and grabs his knee/leg. pic.twitter.com/AG48UNnrb2— Jesse Granger (@JesseGranger_) January 6, 2019
Smith would return to the game and did manage to take a shift to start the third period, but that ended up being his final shift of the game. He soon went back into the locker room afterward.
According to Knights head coach Gerard Gallant, Smith is day-to-day. It’s unclear exactly what is ailing Smith, and we likely will not find out.