It was a tight game for much of the night, but a key jaw-dropping Marc-Andre Fleury save late in the third period as well as strong special teams play helped the Knights come away victorious.
Both teams came out with something to prove. The Knights were coming off a 6-0 shutout win against the Calgary Flames, and the Maple Leafs were trying to break a five-game losing streak (sound familiar?).
With the pressure on, both teams played a pretty tame first period. The Leafs had nine shots on goal while the Knights had 10, but the first period ended with goose eggs for both teams.
The first goal of the game didn’t come until the second period when Vegas capitalized on a power play as Cody Glass found the puck in the crease and beat Frederik Andersen for his fourth of the season.
The goal would go unanswered until the third period, allowing Fleury to have over 100 minutes of shutout time between the last two games. However, Jason Spezza put an end to that when he tied it up 7:26 into the third.
It was the first of five third-period goals between the two teams.
Tomas Nosek made up for an unsuccessful breakaway earlier in the game by scoring on his second breakaway opportunity of the night to give Vegas the lead 42 seconds later.
NUMBER 92 ON THE SCORECARD, NUMBER ONE IN YOUR DAMN HEARTS. pic.twitter.com/3C3RZC9Tjb— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) November 20, 2019
Mark Stone later potted his 10th of the year as Vegas’ power play struck once again.
But Toronto’s hunger started to grow, and it was apparent. They started skating more aggressively and shooting more, ultimately taking over the possession battle. The strategy worked, as Zach Hyman managed to get one past Fleury to bring the score to 3-2.
With just under four minutes to go, Fleury made a stop that will surely be in contention for save of the year. Not only was it a masterful stop, but it came at a critical moment in the game. The save helped preserve Vegas’ lead as the Knights came close to blowing yet another two-goal lead.
WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST SEE pic.twitter.com/MT7fuqD38J— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) November 20, 2019
Finally, after a key penalty kill, the Knights added the insurance marker as Cody Eakin came face-to-face with an empty net to give Vegas the 4-2 win.
After a brutal stretch, it seems as though the Golden Knights are starting to work through some of the kinks. The lines were shuffled, but the new chemistry appears to be working. All four lines had some great chances tonight, which is great to see, especially since Vegas’ bottom six was out of the picture for a while.
At the same time, it’s only been two games, and there are still issues.
That was evident by the fact that the Knights struggled in the third period once again, losing the Corsi battle 24-14 and coming oh so close to surrendering another two-goal lead. If not for Fleury’s magic, it would have been a 3-3 game late in the third, which is concerning.
However, Fleury has always been a big part of Vegas’ success, and he came up huge once again tonight, making 31 saves and earning his 450th career win in the process.
Even though the Knights have more work to do, recent results have been positive, and tonight was a hard-fought and well-earned win. It’s also the Knights’ second straight win on home ice, which is something that hasn’t come easily in Year 3.
It’s also a positive to see the Knights continue to play disciplined hockey. Vegas took just two penalties in tonight’s matchup, and while Toronto scored on one of those opportunities, the penalty kill was tested late and got the job done.
Hopefully the Knights will be able to extend that home winning streak and maintain that level of discipline in what is sure to be an emotional game Thursday night against the Sharks.