The Vegas Golden Knights soared past the Winnipeg Jets in a convincing 5-0 win Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena, extending their winning streak to four games and improving their record to 8-1-0 in March.
Malcolm Subban recorded his first career shutout with 20 saves, and Reilly Smith and William Karlsson scored two goals apiece. Paul Stastny tallied two assists, though Karlsson led the way with his third three-point game of the year.
There is some concern coming out of this game surrounding the status of Max Pacioretty, who exited the game in the first period after suffering an apparent knee injury. He did not return to the game, but that didn’t detract from Vegas’ play.
In fact, it was one of Vegas’ most dominant games of the season, and it was a strong 60-minute effort by the entire team. The Knights controlled possession in all three periods, as you can see in the Corsi chart below, finishing the game with a 59.14 Corsi For percentage and a 61.54 High-Danger CF%.
That being said, Subban, who earned his third straight win, made key saves throughout the night to keep the Jets at bay. One of his biggest saves was a second-period stop on a Kevin Hayes breakaway. Though the Knights already held a three-goal lead, Subban made sure the Jets couldn’t climb back into this one.
Subban makes a big save on Kevin Hayes. pic.twitter.com/M6d1JWI5EG— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 22, 2019
Fortunately for Subban, he didn’t have to wait long to play with a lead. That’s because Karlsson got the Knights off to a great start when he scored an unlikely goal just 1:24 into the game.
GOAL. William Karlsson opens the scoring with a fluky goal from a crazy angle. pic.twitter.com/Yhej6e5Dhd— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 22, 2019
Smith scored his first of the night seven minutes later with the aid of a fantastic forced turnover by Stastny.
Stastny knocked a clearing attempt out of the air with his stick and sent a backhand feed to Smith, who scored a highlight-reel beauty.
Not a great turnover from Joe Morrow here. Smith takes full advantage. pic.twitter.com/7NHdR3CFex— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 22, 2019
Smith’s patience and poise with the puck paid off as he ripped a short-side shot by Laurent Brossoit.
Holy mackerel, look at this shot. pic.twitter.com/oqV0AFgfNT— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 22, 2019
Tomas Nosek deserves some notoriety as well as he scored a key short-handed goal six minutes into the middle frame. Nosek sent a perfect bar-down shot past Brossoit to give Vegas a commanding 3-0 lead.
GOAL. Tomas Nosek scores shorthanded to make it 3-0. pic.twitter.com/5GF9bwHhwl— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 22, 2019
Brossoit gave up three goals on 18 shots before a lower-body injury took him out of the game; he was replaced by Connor Hellebuyck, who gave up two goals on 20 shots.
Smith and Karlsson scored their second goals of the night just 24 seconds apart later in the frame, capping off a three-goal period that put this game out of reach at 5-0.
But the Knights never let up. Vegas continued to drive play and generate scoring chances until the very end, ultimately outshooting Winnipeg 38-20.
It was another productive night for the first line, who combined for six points, giving the trio a total of 22 points in the last three games.
But with just eight games remaining in the regular season, one of the main storylines coming out of the game is the status of Pacioretty.
It’s unclear exactly what happened on the play, but after narrowly avoiding a knee-on-knee hit from Jacob Trouba, it appears he twisted his leg before falling awkwardly to the ice.
Here's where Pacioretty got hurt. pic.twitter.com/lo9aHrpe8c— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 22, 2019
He went straight to the locker room favoring that right leg and did not return; Gerard Gallant was unable to provide an update following the game.
Fortunately for Vegas, the team as a whole is surging at the right time. Everyone in the lineup is contributing, and the Knights have slowly but surely become one of the top threats in the Western Conference.
Plus, Subban has really stepped up with Marc-Andre Fleury out of commission with a lower-body injury. He has won all three games, including both nights of the back-to-back, and has defeated two of the top teams in the conference while making saves like this.
Malcolm Subban just robbed Patrik Laine. pic.twitter.com/FjMSFv5hdB— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) March 22, 2019
The fact that Vegas can keep rolling while Fleury gets the rest he needs cannot be underestimated.
The two points from tonight’s win were also significant in the context of the out-of-town scoreboard.
Both Arizona and San Jose lost, which means the Knights have further added to their cushioned lead over the Coyotes, which now stands at 11 points. Plus, more significantly, the Knights have inched closer to the Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division. What seemed like an unattainable goal of potentially catching up to San Jose or Calgary in the standings is looking more and more possible as the regular season comes to a close.
The Knights, now 10-1-0 since the trade deadline, will have a chance to chip away at that lead as they take on the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.