The Vegas Golden Knights are off to the best start in franchise history.
The Knights’ 5-4 win against the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena moved Vegas to 8-1-1 on the year; Vegas remains in first place in the Western Division and is now 3-0-0 against the Ducks.
Marc-Andre Fleury remains perfect on the season at 5-0-0 despite stopping just 19 of 23 shots for an .826 save percentage.
Rocking their red retro jerseys, the Knights jumped out to a 3-0 lead and held a 4-1 lead in the third. However, the Ducks climbed all the way back and tied it up at 4-4 halfway through the final frame.
But Zach Whitecloud scored the game-winning goal on a rebound with 3:56 left in the game to lift the Knights to victory.
It was Whitecloud’s second goal in two games.
He was joined in the goal column by Chandler Stephenson, Jonathan Marchessault, Alex Tuch and Nicolas Roy.
Stephenson opened the scoring 10:56 into the game with his third goal in two games; it was a very Stephenson-esque goal that featured a burst of speed and a five-hole shot. He also added a secondary assist on Whitecloud’s game-winning goal later in the game.
Notably, Mark Stone and Dylan Coghlan assisted on the play and both set milestones. Stone’s primary assist was his 400th career point, and Coghlan’s secondary helper was his first.
Marchcessault made it 2-0 at the tail end of the first period, and Tuch further extended the lead to three just 2:39 into the second. Tuch went top-shelf on a beautiful backhand shot as Vegas scored twice in under four minutes of game time.
Cody Glass got the lone assist on the play, extending his point streak to four games. He now has points in five out of six games this season.
However, the Ducks wasted little time and responded just 59 seconds later as Isaac Lundestrom found himself alone in the slot and beat Fleury top-shelf.
It remained a 3-1 game for most of the middle frame until Roy scored his first goal of the season, sending a shot through the arm of Ducks netminder Ryan Miller to reinstate the three-goal lead.
Glass got the primary assist on the goal for his second career multi-point game.
Then, it was all Anaheim.
The Ducks scored three straight goals in under five minutes. Getting left wide open will do that.
Troy Terry got things started after Fleury made a sliding save on Kevin Shattenkirk, and Adam Henrique and Terry combined for the next goal, which is one Fleury might like to get back.
Henrique was all alone, but Fleury was fooled badly on the play as the change-up slid underneath him.
Even so, the Knights held a 4-3 lead, but Anaheim’s league-worst power play converted as Ryan Getzlaf scored on a deflection from the top of the crease to even things up just under 10 minutes into the third.
Later in the frame, Whitecloud netted the game-winner as he drove to the net, collected a rebound off a William Carrier shot and potted his second goal of the year.
The Knights are now 4-0-0 when debuting a new jersey.
Interestingly, the Ducks controlled possession in the first two periods with a 35-24 edge in Corsi at 5-on-5.
The Knights finished the game with a 2-to-1 advantage in high-danger chances, however, five of which came in the opening frame.
Blowing a late lead is not ideal, especially considering the Ducks scored three goals in quick succession. It also was Fleury’s worst performance of the season despite getting the win. He gave up more than two goals for the first time this year and was not nearly as sharp as he has been.
Of great concern, however, is the fact that Shea Theodore, who extended his point streak to four games with an assist on Roy’s goal, missed the entire third period after a collision earlier in the game. Tomas Nosek was not on the bench either, but there’s no denying how significant Theodore is to this team.
There were some positive takeaways, though.
It wasn’t pretty, but it was the Knights’ third straight win and fifth straight game with a point.
Also, it was a team-wide effort. All four forward lines chipped in a goal in the contest, and it arguably was the best performance by the bottom six this season notwithstanding the fact that the fourth line lost the Corsi battle 8-1. But the third line is looking better and better every game, and that has been a weakness for Vegas for a while.
It was a strong night for Vegas’ youth, as Glass, Coghlan and especially Whitecloud played key roles in the win. Glass has impressed since getting held out of the lineup earlier this season, Coghlan notched his first career point and looked more comfortable and confident in his third NHL game, and Whitecloud scored the game-winning goal and finished second on the team in ice time (21:46); however, it was evident Theodore was missed on the back end.
At the end of the day, the Knights are off to a fantastic start, though their 7-0-1 record at home is indicative of a tough road (pun intended) ahead. The Knights will have plenty of games away from T-Mobile Arena and will face more challenging opponents. That being said, especially at this point in the season, finding ways to win and collecting points is what matters.
The Knights and Ducks are scheduled to face off again Thursday night; however, after the post-game media availability was canceled due to COVID-19 protocols, it’s unclear when that game will take place.