If there was any concern the Vegas Golden Knights were overlooking the Vancouver Canucks, that was put to rest 1:32 into Saturday’s contest.
Of course it was because of Mark Stone. You know, that guy who just signed an eight-year, $76 million contract extension on Friday.
Stone scored his first goal with the Golden Knights less than two minutes in, which catapulted Vegas to a five-goal first period and an eventual 6-2 win over Vancouver at Rogers Arena on Saturday.
Stone’s goal was his 29th of the season and first since Feb. 18; his final game with the Ottawa Senators before Vegas acquired him six games ago, all of which the Golden Knights have won. The six-game winning streak ties the Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins for the longest such streaks in the League.
Vegas scored three times in the first 8:33. The barrage began with Stone cleaning up the rebound on Paul Stastny’s attempt that hit the far post.
THE STONE AGE pic.twitter.com/EkSF5ul1hC— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 10, 2019
Stone wasn’t finished, though. He had an assist on Stastny’s ninth goal of the season at 14:17 of the first period for 61’s first multipoint game as a Golden Knights player. He has four points (one goal, three assists) in his past four games. That extended the lead to 5-1. Yes, that was all in the first period. Yes, Vegas scored three other goals inbetween.
Alex Tuch scored at 5:03, and Cody Eakin scored 3:30 later to make it 3-0. To be fair, the goal should get credited to Tuch’s visor. Any way to get on the board, eh?
#VegasBorn go up 2-0 on the #Canucks less than 6 minutes in after a Jon Merill shot hits Alex Tuch & goes in pic.twitter.com/b8QipMggjp— Nathan Kanter (@NathanKanter11) March 10, 2019
Brock Boeser got Vancouver on the board at 10:58 to make it 3-1, but of course it would be Tomas Nosek who HAD NOT PLAYED SINCE FEB. 28 to answer 54 seconds later and make it 4-1. Then Stastny scored his less than three minutes later.
Now you’re caught up.
Keep in mind, this is the same Vancouver team Vegas saw this past Sunday. Jakob Markstrom was in net. He made 45 saves. He was pretty good outside of a stellar second period by the Golden Knights. That was not the case Saturday. Markstrom was pulled for Thatcher Demko after allowing five goals on 16 shots. Demko made 17 saves and allowed one goal; Nate Schmidt’s ninth of the year at 4:56 of the second period. That came one minute after Bo Horvat made it 5-2.
If you like pretty colors, this is for you. Vegas worked the crease all night long. All but Schmidt’s goal came from the crease or the slot. It was that kind of night.
So, there was no shutout for Marc-Andre Fleury as opposed to one week ago, but Fleury made 29 saves for his 438th victory and surpassed Jacques Plante for sole possession of eighth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list. Next up is Terry Sawchuk (445).
Here comes the fun part: The Golden Knights will be in Calgary on Sunday for a rematch against the Flames, who they just beat 2-1 on Wednesday in Vegas. The approach to this is a unique. It would not shock me if Fleury goes tomorrow. He allowed two goals, which might not be a good sign, but it’s also a late start. Fleury has played those back-to-backs if that’s been the indication. Malcolm Subban may get a redemption shot from the 7-2 drubbing on Nov. 19.
But the situation is also different. Calgary is no longer in first place in the Pacific. The San Jose Sharks have surpassed them. Vegas is eight back of Calgary for second place. A second win in four days would put Vegas six back of second. Not that it might matter at this point if Vegas starts the playoffs at home or on the road, but it’s an incentive to think of with nearly an entire week off coming up before playing its next game (Friday at Dallas).
It’s likely a pissed Flames team taking the ice Sunday, having lost four straight and a lot of ground in the process. Imagine the euphoric high Golden Knights fans will be on should Sunday result in another win.
On that note, I’ll leave with this note from colleague Tom Gulitti that I agree on.
IF I was a Western Conference team headed to the playoffs, I'd want to avoid playing Vegas.— Tom Gulitti (@TomGulittiNHL) March 10, 2019
They've had some ups and downs this season, but they're coming together at the right time and likely will have the best playoff goalie in any matchup on that side of the bracket.