A two-goal second period helped the Knights defeat the Wild in regulation for the first time in franchise history.
However, it was Minnesota that got on the board first. Mats Zuccarello gave the Wild a 1-0 lead late in the first period on a 5-on-3 power-play opportunity. It was a sign of things to come, as the Knights played undisciplined hockey throughout the game, picking up five of the game’s six penalties.
Fortunately, Vegas rebounded with the next three goals, and the second line got things going.
In fact, Mark Stone picked up two primary assists for Vegas, including one on Chandler Stephenson‘s second-period goal, which tied the game at 1-1. Stephenson converted on a 2-on-1 a little over halfway through the second, beating Alex Stalock off a great feed from Stone.
The full-line goal for the second unit allowed all three players to extend their point streaks, and Stephenson tied his career-high in goals with his sixth of the season; he now has five points in eight games with Vegas.
Max Pacioretty extends his point streak to five games (5G, 4A).— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) December 18, 2019
Mark Stone extends his point streak to five games (1G, 6A).
Chandler Stephenson has three goals as a Golden Knights skater.
Everyone party.#VegasBorn https://t.co/Yh3rGpJzoN
It looked like this game was headed to the third period at 1-1. But with 10 seconds left in the middle frame, Shea Theodore walked in and sniped a puck past Stalock to give Vegas its first lead of the game. It was Theodore’s first goal in 11 games.
This one is all Shea, as the young defenseman puts the puck low glove side. Reilly Smith probably helped a little, though, as he caused a distraction for Matt Dumba at the side of the net, which created a partial screen.
In the third period, Tomas Nosek would add another goal for Vegas, breaking a 13-game drought. William Carrier picked up the assist, his career-high 10th point on the season.
Zach Parise helped Minnesota pull within one at 18:45 of the third with Stalock on the bench, but Marc-Andre Fleury and the Knights held on for the 3-2 win.
Fleury made 27 saves on 29 shots in the game and also took a penalty, his third of the season.
The Golden Knights dominated possession in this game, beating Minnesota in shots at even strength in the first two periods but tying in the third (shots were nine to six in Vegas’ favor at 5-on-5, however). The Knights had a 51-38 Corsi advantage and 9-4 high-danger advantage at 5-on-5 as well.
While the second line contributed the most on the scoreboard, it was the first and fourth lines that drove possession for Vegas, as the trio of Smith, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault had a 73.91 percent Corsi and 72.73 percent shot share at 5-on-5, while Ryan Reaves, Nosek and Carrier had a 66.67 percent Corsi and 33.33 percent shot share.
Despite the early power-play goal against, the Golden Knights’ penalty kill did okay for the rest of the game, limiting chances to outside- and long-range attempts where Fleury stood a better chance of making saves. That’s something the Knights likely wish they had been able to do on the 5-on-3 in the first, but with two of their best penalty killers in the box (Smith and Stone), they were unable to.
Max Pacioretty’s four-game goal streak ended in this contest, as he was unable to tie the five-game record set by Erik Haula and Karlsson from the inaugural season. Pacioretty had two shots and an assist, though.
This was Vegas’ first franchise win over the Wild at T-Mobile Arena, and the Golden Knights had previously spent very little time with a lead against Minnesota on home ice. Vegas was up for the entire third period in this one, however.
Vegas has also now won three home games in a row, and the Knights are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.
The team has gotten hot at the right time, and tonight’s win helps Vegas move back to second place in the Pacific Division, passing Edmonton in the standings. Arizona still has a slight edge over Vegas after defeating the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday night, though.
The Golden Knights next face the Canucks in Vancouver on Thursday.