If your team was looking to end a four-game losing streak, the last team in the league that you’d want to play is the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Thankfully that streak came to an end tonight for the Vegas Golden Knights, and it couldn’t have been done in a more emphatic way. It’s no easy task to waltz into the No. 1 team in the league’s arena riding a four-game losing streak and then not only squeeze out a win, but outplay them in the process. Despite being down for majority of the game, the Golden Knights were able to overcome a two-goal deficit and go on to secure the shootout win in Tampa.
In an interview during warmups, Nate Schmidt said that one of the keys to the game would be to stay out of the penalty box against a dangerous team like the Lightning, who rank first in the league with a 29.4 percent success rate on the man advantage. Unfortunately, Schmidt didn’t listen to his own advice and took a cross-checking minor just five minutes into the first period. Brayden Point converted on that power play and put the Lightning up 1-0 early in the first.
Schmidt must have not passed the memo onto William Karlsson, as he took a tripping penalty a minute later. Luckily Steven Stamkos forgot how to score from his office and the Golden Knights were able to kill it off rather than go down 2-0 in the first 10 minutes. Honestly, I’ve never seen a more wide open net than what was in front of him, and it is an absolute miracle that he didn’t find twine.
Kucherov and Stamkos connect for a dangerous chance, but Stamkos' shot goes wide. pic.twitter.com/lcLgojGYHr— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 6, 2019
Despite taking three penalties in the first period, the Golden Knights were able to get out of the first period down only one.
The second line continued to easily be the Knights’ top line, generating the majority of the team’s chances through the first half of the game. After falling awkwardly after a face-off early in the second period, Paul Stastny periodically left the game. Much to everybody’s relief, though, he returned in the second half of the second period. Whew!
Toward the end of the second period, the Lightning got a puck past Marc-Andre Fleury, but the referees quickly waved it off for goalie interference. The Lightning didn’t like the call, and decided to challenge the ruling on the ice. Of course, it was overturned.
Fleury was a bit outside of his crease, and Colin Miller made the mistake of pushing Mathieu Joseph into Fleury as the puck deflected into the net to make it 2-0.
A few minutes later, however, Jon Merrill found a streaking Cody Eakin and fed him a beautiful stretch pass, leading to Vegas’ first goal of the game.
Some technical difficulties earlier in the game, but here's Cody Eakin's goal off a gorgeous pass from Jon Merrill. pic.twitter.com/yz9E49W5Sk— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 6, 2019
With two minutes to go in the second, Ryan Carpenter took a heavy, dangerous hit from Cedric Paquette in the corner and went into the boards hard. Somehow, no penalty was called on the play.
Ryan Carpenter takes a scary hit along the boards. He goes straight to the locker room. pic.twitter.com/O2axRCaDAQ— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 6, 2019
He stayed down for a bit and was showing obvious signs of a concussions, but then got up under his own power. When he tried to skate off on his own he nearly toppled over and his teammates had to go back to help him. This was Carpenter’s first game since Jan. 23, and hopefully we’ll get some good news on him soon.
Through two periods, the score was 2-1 for the Lightning. Despite the score, the Golden Knights were absolutely outplaying the Lightning at 5-on-5, but they just couldn’t solve Vasilevskiy. They weren’t getting a ton of grade-A scoring chances through two, but he was absolutely rock solid in net. He made a handful of point-blank saves and was always in perfect position to stop the puck.
When it looked like the Golden Knights were lucky enough to get just one puck past Vasilevskiy, William Karlsson made an absolutely gorgeous play to set up Valentin Zykov for his first goal as a Golden Knight five minutes into the third period to tie the game. Vasilevskiy had zero chance to save this one, and it was a beautiful play from Wild Bill.
Look at this absolutely gorgeous feed from William Karlsson. pic.twitter.com/ucLkLztfRa— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 6, 2019
The Golden Knights looked like they were digging their own grave late in the third period when they took two penalties in the final 10 minutes, but they killed them off and kept the game tied at two. Eakin had a great scoring chance when he got the puck coming out of the penalty box, and Pacioretty got an even better chance on the rebound, but Vasilevskiy pulled some magic and stopped them both.
This isn't gonna be easy, folks. pic.twitter.com/S6YTsZ8X4Y— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 6, 2019
With just under two minutes to go in the third, Alex Killorn was called for tripping and the Golden Knights had a chance to end the game late, but they weren't able to get it done in regulation. The teams each grabbed a point and headed to overtime to settle things.
After Vegas spent the first half of overtime dominating time in the offensive zone, the Lightning got called for too many men with 2:22 left in the extra frame. Unfortunately the power play wasn’t able to convert again, and the teams needed a shootout to decide the winner.
The shootout played out like so:
Point - miss.
Theodore - miss.
Kucherov - miss.
Tuch - GOAL.
Alex Tuch ended the shootout with a beautiful goal, and the Golden Knights put an end to their four-game losing streak. This game was honestly a breath of fresh air for anybody that was worried about the Golden Knights as they severely outplayed the Lightning. Despite Vasilevskiy being a brick wall in nets, they were not only able to force overtime, but they dominated the entire overtime period. Overall great effort from everybody on the squad and a huge win for the Golden Knights.