The Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche played the biggest game of their respective seasons on Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Neither team disappointed, but the Golden Knights came up big when it mattered in all facets of the game, which helped them come away with the 5-2 win.
The win extended Vegas’ winning streak to 10 games, a franchise record. The two points give Vegas a six-point lead over Colorado in the West Division, though the Avalanche have a game in hand.
The Golden Knights called upon Marc-Andre Fleury in the most important game of the season, and he was excellent. He made 35 saves on 37 shots for a ..946 save percentage against one of the most dangerous teams in the league, backstopping the Golden Knights to their 35th win of the season.
The game got out to a roaring start, and it was the Golden Knights who broke through first, setting a franchise record. William Karlsson scored only 10 seconds into the game, which is the fastest goal to start a game in the Knights’ four-year history. Karlsson captured a misplayed puck off the opening faceoff and beat Devan Dubnyk with a backhand shot.
The Golden Knights quickly found themselves with almost four minutes of power-play time but were not able to capitalize on the excellent opportunities. Not only that, but Fleury had to make an excellent diving poke check after the first of the overlapping penalties expired.
Your highlight of the Golden Knights power play: pic.twitter.com/mL3LRXv04u— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) April 29, 2021
After that, it was all Avalanche. Devon Toews finally was able to beat Fleury and tied the game at 13:43 after Colorado had multiple great chances.
Pressure was going to bite the Knights' defense eventually. Fourth line scrambles, Toews roofs the loose puck. pic.twitter.com/UXPc3pzM4P— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) April 29, 2021
Shortly after the goal, the Golden Knights’ penalty kill was put to the test after Alec Martinez was whistled for interference. The league’s best penalty kill stood tall and created some momentum near the end of the penalty.
The Knights went to the power play right after the great kill, but they were not able to capitalize on that either; the teams went to the locker rooms tied at 1-1.
The Avalanche went to a power play just nine seconds into the second period, but the Golden Knights were able to kill it with some help from Fleury.
Around the midway point of the game, Reilly Smith’s stick was held by Sam Girard, putting the Knights on yet another man advantage. This time, they cashed in.
The goal came on their first shot of the period off the stick of Max Pacioretty, who scored from the blue line to retake the lead and shift momentum at a time they desperately needed something to go their way.
Mark Stone scored his 19th of the season by shooting the puck off Dubnyk’s back from behind the net, extending the lead to two goals.
Pacioretty picked up his 300th career assist on the play. It was yet another bizarre goal from Vegas, but the Knights were not complaining one bit.
Less than three minutes later, however, Ryan Graves cut Vegas’ lead right back to one. His shot from the point got by Fleury, who was screened on the play; Nathan MacKinnon extended his point streak to 15 games with an assist on the goal.
Near the end of the period, Zach Whitecloud was whistled for a bad slash in the neutral zone, which sent the Avalanche to a third power play. The Golden Knights were able to kill off the penalty, which carried over into the third period.
The Knights, who have excelled in the third period this season, doubled their lead less than a minute in.
Stone made an amazing defensive play, setting up a 2-on-1 with Pacioretty. The dynamic duo capitalized on the opportunity as Pacioretty scored his second of the game.
The Avalanche got another power play after Chandler Stephenson went to the box for roughing Nazem Kadri, but Fleury made a couple excellent saves while shorthanded to get the kill.
The Avalanche pulled Dubnyk with 4:12 left in the game, setting up extended time in Vegas’ zone. Colorado was primarily kept to the perimeter, however, as Vegas’ thrived while shorthanded as usual. Jonathan Marchesault helped the Golden Knights ice it with an empty-net goal at 18:41 of the third.
It was a big test for the Knights, and they passed it with flying colors, even if Colorado was without several key players.
Stone was in full control of the game, and he and Pacioretty finished the night with three points each.
The Golden Knights played a patient game and took advantage of their opportunities, especially going up against a struggling goaltender. The quick-strike goal from Karlsson set the tone early, and the Knights carried out their gameplan.
The Golden Knights have put themselves in a strong spot to win the West Division, but there is still work to be done. Vegas will take on the Coyotes in Arizona on Friday night.