Jonathan Marchessault put his third goal in the net 9:40 into the third period. It was his third career hat trick and the second in his Vegas Golden Knights tenure, and that goal, less than halfway through the third frame, would prove to be the game-winner as the Golden Knights defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-3 on Tuesday night at Prudential Center.
On a night full of story arcs — the Subban Bowl, Vegas seeking its first four-game winning streak, New Jersey’s new coach, Chandler Stephenson (the new guy) centering the fourth line — all of them would prove relevant.
Stephenson scored Vegas’ first goal of the game in the second period to even things up at 1-1 after Kyle Palmieri gave the Devils a first-period lead.
Malcolm Subban got his team the win against his brother’s, making 32 saves on 35 shots. Vegas did indeed get its first four-game winning steak, all with Subban in net. New Jersey out-possessed, outplayed and out-hustled Vegas for most of the first 40 minutes of the game and brought a 2-1 lead into the third period. New Jersey was coming off an ugly 7-1 loss and likely responded to a coaching change made just two-and-a-half hours before this game.
This was a game in which Subban fully stepped up to the plate and won the game for the Golden Knights. When Kyle Palmieri opened the scoring for the Devils, it was New Jersey’s second breakaway; Subban stopped Taylor Hall’s bid shortly before Palmieri got one by him.
Defensively, Vegas allowed too many chances against, and while some were pushed to the outside, a fair number came from the high-danger and royal road areas.
Nobody else on Vegas’ roster was truly excellent throughout the entire game. But Subban’s .914 save percentage was impressive, especially considering he was prevented from getting across the crease to make the save on one of New Jersey’s goals. That play was controversial, as Gerard Gallant’s challenge for goaltender interference somehow failed.
The second pairing of Shea Theodore and Nicolas Hague, after a great game against the New York Rangers on Monday, were especially lacking. At even strength, the duo had just 30 percent Corsi ratings, shot shares near 27 percent and expected goal shares in the 30’s. They were heavily bailed out by Subban, both receiving 66.67 percent goal shares.
The Golden Knights, one of the better possession teams in the league, are not used to getting out-possessed, especially by a team like New Jersey, who came in with some of the worst possession stats in the league. That’s likely part of the reason head coach John Hynes is no longer with the Devils’ organization.
Still, the Devils gave the Golden Knights a good fight. In addition to Palmieri’s first-period tally, Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier also lit the lamp (Hischier doing so immediately after Marchessault scored his hat trick).
The Devils controlled play for most of this game, and it left the Golden Knights needing someone to break through in the third period. Luckily, Marchessault was up to the task.
Marchessault’s goals all came from hard work and chip shots, which is to say, none of them were pretty. But the Golden Knights didn’t need them to be, as his work paid off.
His first goal was scored on a deflection as he and William Karlsson streaked toward the net.
Now, that we're back up and running:— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) December 4, 2019
81's hat trick, a thread (1/3): pic.twitter.com/UWzgIf4CS2
His third was a nice play as he received a behind-the-back pass from Alex Tuch and then retrieved his own rebound before stuffing the puck into the net to complete the natural hat trick.
Marchessault’s third-period heroics proved to be the key for Vegas, as he broke an eight-game drought. Tuch also had three points on the night, all assists, and Reilly Smith added two helpers as well.
The Golden Knights next face the New York Islanders on Thursday as they get a day off in New York City. Marc-Andre Fleury likely will take over crease duties then, though Subban has put forth an excellent effort with consistent playing time. That’s something to keep in mind for the future.
For now, let us bask in the glow of this four-game winning streak. It feels like Vegas finally has it figured out, for once.