The Vegas Golden Knights got back in the win column with a 3-0 victory against the New Jersey Devils Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena.
It was a dominant defensive effort by the Knights, but the big man in the crease had a lot to do with it.
In fact, in his second game as a Golden Knight, Robin Lehner stopped all 27 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season and the 15th of his career.
Lehner is now 2-0-0 in two games with Vegas and has given up just two goals on 61 shots.
As well as Lehner played, though, it’s hard to overlook the performance by Devils netminder MacKenzie Blackwood, who has been phenomenal for weeks. Blackwood was strong throughout the game, but came up especially clutch early on as he made several key stops to keep the game scoreless through 20 minutes.
However, Max Pacioretty broke the ice less than a minute into the second period to give Vegas a 1-0 lead.
William Karlsson made a no-look backhand pass to spring Pacioretty, who beat Blackwood from the top of the left circle.
Max Pacioretty 1-0 #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/FoY11Qn6o1— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) March 4, 2020
The second period wasn’t a great one for the Knights, but Lehner made some big stops to preserve Vegas’ lead.
Fortunately for Vegas, the third period started just like the second, but this time it was Karlsson who lit the lamp, doing so for the 100th time in his career.
Nicolas Roy started the play off with a key stick lift at the blue line, and he and Wild Bill proceeded to complete a give-and-go. Karlsson finished the exchange with a one-time blast to beat Blackwood and double Vegas’ lead just 37 seconds into the frame.
It was Karlsson’s 15th of the season and his fifth in the last five games.
Ryan Reaves gave Vegas a commanding 3-0 lead at 8:49 of the third. The goal was the result of a great shift by the fourth line as Reaves put home a rebound after Blackwood made multiple saves.
Ryan Reaves 3-0 #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/I3vVKPjVJN— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) March 4, 2020
Vegas killed off a late penalty thanks to some heroics by defenseman Zach Whitecloud, who blocked two shots on the same shift.
#VegasBorn Zack Whitecloud. Warrior. pic.twitter.com/9uC84h7cp5— Here's Your Replay ⬇️ (@HeresYourReplay) March 4, 2020
The Knights went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill on the night.
It was a strong bounce-back performance for Vegas following Sunday’s frustrating loss to Los Angeles, which snapped an eight-game winning streak.
The new-look second line had an outstanding night, as Pacioretty, Karlsson and Roy combined for five points and all finished with Corsi For percentages above 68. Despite the solid performance, however, Roy was reassigned to the AHL Chicago Wolves following the game.
But it was a strong team effort all around, as the Knights maintained control for most of the game, and they were able to lock things down after building a lead.
The Knights have now won nine of their last 10 games and are 11-2-2 over their last 15.
Despite temporarily dropping into second place after Edmonton picked up an overtime win earlier in the evening, the Knights are back in first place in the Pacific Division standings with 82 points, two points ahead of the Oilers, who have a game in hand.
Tonight was a crucial win, as this is no time for consecutive losses, especially considering Edmonton is showing no signs of slowing down.
Next up for Vegas is a five-game road trip starting with a matchup against the Jets on Friday night.