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Year 2, Game 72: Golden Knights secure 6-3 win in fast-paced battle against Oilers

The St. Patrick’s Showdown was a success for Vegas.

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights got goals from five different players, including two from Jonathan Marchessault, as they defeated the Edmonton Oilers by a final score of 6-3 at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday night.

Though the Oilers kept up on the scoreboard throughout most of the night, a three-goal third period sealed the victory as the Knights picked up their eighth win in the last nine games. Vegas is now 6-1-0 in March.

Donned in their green St. Patrick’s Day gear, Golden Knights fans witnessed a thrilling and action-packed battle that saw the Knights set the pace early with 11 shots on goal in just the first nine minutes of action. By the end of the night, Vegas had 34 shots, far exceeding the Oilers’ 19. Vegas also held a significant edge in high-danger chances at 5-on-5 (18-6), as evidenced by the red area in front of the crease in the heat map below.

Mark Stone officially opened the scoring just 5:40 into the opening frame with his 31st of the season. It was his first goal on home ice since being acquired at the trade deadline.

But the Oilers tied it up at 1-1 on a power-play goal from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins later in the period. That would prove to be a common theme throughout the game as it was a back-and-forth contest despite the fact that Vegas dominated the possession game in all three periods, ultimately finishing the game with a Corsi For percentage of 64.44.

Cody Eakin gave Vegas a 2-1 lead when he scored his 18th of the season in the final minute of the opening frame, but Leon Draisaitl reset the game when he tied it up yet again just 22 seconds into the second period. Less than two minutes later, however, Marchessault scored his first goal of the game to regain the one-goal lead, which held up through 40 minutes.

But Marchessault wasn’t finished.

In fact, just 40 seconds into the third period, he netted his second of the game to give Vegas what felt like a comfortable two-goal lead.

Marchessault hadn’t scored a goal since Feb. 22, so his two-goal night was quite the statement game from him.

But of course, roughly five minutes after Marchessault made the game 4-2, Kris Russell managed to score on an innocent-looking shot far from the crease, cutting Edmonton’s deficit in half.

With Marc-Andre Fleury sidelined with a lower-body injury, Malcolm Subban was in the crease tonight, and it wasn’t his best performance. He struggled to stop low-danger scoring chances, and while he may have been screened on this play, Russell’s shot from the blue line allowed the Oilers to remain in the game.

Even so, every time the Oilers would knock on the door and tie the game or pull within one, the Knights had an answer.

Vegas’ answer to Russell’s goal was a bizarre game-changing play that ultimately became Brayden McNabb’s fourth strike of the season. McNabb was able to sneak one past Edmonton goalie Mikko Koskinen, who wasn’t the only one fooled on the play.

As the puck was trickling past Koskinen, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare collided with the goalie with the assistance of a push from Russell. The puck crossed the goal line before anyone in front of the net realized that Koskinen wasn’t in possession. Ryan Carpenter spotted the puck and dove for the scoring chance, though the puck had already crossed the goal line by the time he arrived.

As a result of the contact by Bellemare, Edmonton challenged the goal for goaltender interference. While goaltender interference rulings often confuse everyone involved, this one was a little more clear-cut.

In an explanation posted online, the Situation Room explained the ruling to uphold the call on the ice: “...the contact between Bellemare and Koskinen had no bearing on the puck entering the net as the original shot [from McNabb] travelled through the goaltender and crossed the goal line in a continuous motion.”

McNabb’s goal helped the Knights lock up the win, though Alex Tuch potted his 19th of the season later in the frame to close out the 6-3 win.

The big storyline heading into the game was the absence of Fleury, which put Subban in net for his 13th game of the season. Many wondered how he would fare against superstar Connor McDavid.

As it turned out, though, neither Subban’s nor McDavid’s performances were of note. McDavid tallied two assists, but it was Vegas’ powerhouse offense that took center stage (er, ice).

That being said, the Golden Knights did not have their best defensive game. They allowed three goals, one while shorthanded and the other two at even strength, and also had some sloppy play.

Nate Schmidt had a particularly rough game, committing turnovers on Vegas’ side of the ice that could have ended poorly if it weren’t for some clutch saves from Subban.

Despite a tough night for the blue line, Deryk Engelland had a spectacular game. He managed to prevent some goals himself throughout the night, and his Corsi For percentage ended up at a very impressive 67.65.

Another problem that came about was Vegas’ poor performance on the power play, which went 0-for-3 on the night. Three separate times, the Golden Knights failed to create scoring chances when they had the man advantage, and Subban had to stop the Oilers from scoring even while Edmonton was on the penalty kill.

Overall, though, the offense was able to outshine the Knights’ shortcomings on the back end.

With six goals from five different players, the Knights were able to overcome Subban’s sub-par save percentage of .842, as well as some rough turnovers.

The win wasn’t just a scrape-by, though—it was explosive.

Even Ryan Reaves’ cheek got a piece of the action.

The Golden Knights now sit nine points behind San Jose and seven points ahead of Arizona in the Pacific Division standings. Fittingly, the Knights will take on the Sharks tomorrow night in San Jose.

However, it could be Subban in net once again, as Gerard Gallant confirmed after the game that Fleury will not make the trip with the team.

The Knights will need another strong performance as they look to pull within seven points of the Sharks.