It was a chaotic finish, but the Vegas Golden Knights won their fourth straight game with an emotional 3-2 comeback win against the New York Rangers Friday night at Madison Square Garden.
It was the team’s first game against former head coach Gerard Gallant as well as former Knights forward Ryan Reaves.
The Knights tied the game with five minutes remaining in regulation and went on to beat the Rangers 1-0 in the shootout following a wild, back-and-forth overtime.
The Rangers were without star winger Artemi Panarin and starting netminder Igor Shesterkin, though both backups — Laurent Brossoit for Vegas and Alexandar Georgiev for New York — made huge stops down the stretch to keep their teams in the game.
Brett Howden got his sweet revenge against his former team with the opening goal of the game just under seven minutes into the first period.
He passed through the seven levels of the Candy Cane forest, through the sea of swirly twirly gum drops, and then he walked through the Lincoln Tunnel pic.twitter.com/Ef1d2PpSVI— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 18, 2021
It was the fourth line’s second goal in two games, as Howden beat Georgiev on the rebound for his third of the season.
But after a very strong first-period effort, the Knights gave up another quick-strike goal at the start of the second period to erase the one-goal lead.
Mika Zibanejad evened things up just 17 seconds into the middle frame after using Zach Whitecloud as a screen on a long-range shot.
MIKA'S TURN. pic.twitter.com/MRRLoWYKK0— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) December 18, 2021
Just over 10 minutes later, the Rangers took their first lead of the game when Kreider scored on the power play. Kreider took a perfect feed from Zibanejad and tapped it in back-door.
He's AUTOMATIC. pic.twitter.com/KsPi3FsNcN— New York Rangers (@NYRangers) December 18, 2021
It was all Rangers in the second period. They outshot the Knights 11-4 and completely dominated the entire frame. Vegas was very fortunate to be trailing by just one goal headed into the third.
That’s when both teams shut things down, making the third period an incredibly slow and low-event affair. In fact, the two clubs combined for just three shots through the first 13 minutes.
However, Vegas made the most of an offensive faceoff win and scored on their fifth shot of the period.
Dylan Coghlan scored his second goal in two games off a feed from Howden, who won the faceoff against Zibanejad. Coghlan sent it top-shelf to beat the screened Georgiev.
Dylan Coghlan ties it up in the 3rd! pic.twitter.com/QILFAAs1Bd— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) December 18, 2021
It was Howden’s second point against his former team; the goal evened things up at 2-2 with just over five minutes left in the third.
The ensuing 3-on-3 overtime was the opposite of the third period. It featured nonstop action at both ends, forcing the goalies to make game-saving stops as New York and Vegas traded grade-A chances left and right.
Brossoit made a huge stop on Ryan Strome at the side of the net on what looked like a sure goal, and Georgiev stopped Max Pacioretty on multiple breakaways. The clubs combined for 11 shots in overtime (7-4 Rangers) before heading to a shootout.
Nicolas Roy, Evgenii Dadonov and Jonathan Marchessault were the Vegas shooters and went up against Kaapo Kakko, Zibanejad and Strome.
Marchessault scored the lone goal of the shootout, lifting Vegas to the come-from-behind 3-2 win.
It was just the third time this season the Rangers lost when leading after two periods.
The game marks Vegas’ season-best fourth consecutive win; the Knights have now won seven of their last eight games.
Once again, it wasn’t a complete effort for the Knights, who seemed to feel the effects of the back-to-back as the game wore on.
The fourth line was the team’s best and was on the ice for both of Vegas’ goals. That line has accounted for three goals in the last two games; Vegas’ top line failed to find the scoresheet for the second game in a row.
However, they had a tough matchup against the Zibanejad line; with a goal and an assist in tonight’s game, Zibanejad now has 10 points in seven career games against the Knights.
Reaves finished the game with six hits and a minus-one rating in 10:33.
The Rangers played a strong game, particularly after the first 15 minutes of the first period. However, they were unable to extend their lead in a dominant second-period effort, one of the club’s best periods of the season. The ice was completely tilted, and the Rangers’ forecheck was similar to the Golden Knights’ in Year 1.
However, aside from the early goal from Zibanejad, the Knights were able to hold New York without a goal at 5-on-5, which kept them in the game.
The Knights capitalized when they had to in the third period on a rare faceoff win against Zibanejad; Vegas eventually finished the job in the shootout.
The Knights are 3-0-0 on their current four-game road trip, which concludes Sunday against the Islanders.