The Vegas Golden Knights grabbed their 11th win of the season as they beat the Colorado Avalanche 3-0 on Monday in Denver. It’s the first time in franchise history the Golden Knights won a game in Colorado, and it’s their second win this season against the Avalanche.
Marc-Andre Fleury recorded his third shutout of the year and second against Colorado in the last four games. He made 34 saves, several of which were fantastic, and finished the game with 2.56 goals saved above expected. He remains one of the Golden Knights’ best players so far this season, and this game was no different.
The Golden Knights were in need of a bounce-back effort after Saturday’s loss, and coming back indoors seemed to do just the trick. The Knights played a much better first two periods of hockey, including outshooting Colorado 20-17 at 5-on-5 and managing a 1.54 expected goals compared to Colorado’s 1.37.
A scoreless first period saw the Golden Knights get the game’s first power play and fail to capitalize. They got just one shot on goal during the opportunity. At 5-on-5, Vegas won the shot battle nine to five in the first period and had two high-danger chances to Colorado’s one. It was a significantly better period for Vegas compared to all three in the outdoor game.
And then the offense showed up.
Vegas would get another shot on the power play early in the second period, and this time the Knights capitalized. Assisted by William Karlsson and Alex Pietrangelo, Alex Tuch opened the scoring on the rush:
Last two goals have been scored by 89. Tuch sneaks through the middle and beats Grubauer.— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) February 23, 2021
Assists to Karlsson and Pietrangelo on Tuch's sixth.#VegasBorn https://t.co/pEoH9lKKi6 pic.twitter.com/Q823P8bvE8
Less than four minutes later, Tuch scored his second goal of the game, third in the last two and seventh of the season:
Puck goes off Byram's skate in front, but Tuch's speed and skating once again on display. https://t.co/WIM9UsZ7SH pic.twitter.com/DvNdDEdxWC— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) February 23, 2021
Technically it was an own goal by Bowen Byram, but it happened to be Tuch’s third straight goal between the two teams, so it’s sort of a semi-natural hat trick. Mark Stone picked up his first point since Feb. 13 with the primary assist on the play.
Jonathan Marchessault would follow Tuch’s lead less than five minutes later with a goal of his own:
Karlsson picked up his second assist of the game with Nicolas Hague getting his first. Marchessault’s goal would be the last in the game. Vegas mustered just six shots and 0.35 expected goals in the third period while Fleury continued to shut down the Avalanche, who had 15 shots and 1.19 expected goals in the final 20.
The Golden Knights had been getting rush opportunities throughout the second period, and they were able to capitalize on three of them. The best counter to speed is speed of your own, and the Golden Knights executed that effectively in the second.
Vegas took just two penalties in this game, both of which came in the third period. That was an improvement over the five in Saturday’s game. Vegas gave up just two shots on Colorado’s lone power play; the penalty kill has allowed just one goal in the last eight games.
Pete DeBoer experimented with lines before the game, splitting up combinations and creating fresh groups. It largely worked, as three of the lines had positive shot shares and expected goal shares.
The lone outlier was the first line of Tuch, Stone and Chandler Stephenson, which had just a 36.36 percent shot share and 31.72 percent expected goal share. That group recorded a goal at 5-on-5, however, and Tuch made great use of his elevated ice time.
The Knights needed a much better performance after their last two games against Colorado, and they took care of business in the first 40 minutes to split the four-game set. Vegas’ offense finally came alive, which could mean the Knights will stick with the new lines going forward.
Vegas next plays the San Jose Sharks on Thursday.