The Vegas Golden Knights overcame a late 2-1 deficit in the third period to win on Wednesday night in overtime, 3-2, against the Minnesota Wild. It’s the third time the Golden Knights have defeated the Wild this season and first in the last six tries.
The game began with a lot of penalties, as between the two clubs, 30 minutes were accumulated in the first period. A full list of offenders includes Carson Soucy, Zach Whitecloud, Nic Hague, Marcus Foligno, Kirill Kaprizov, Ryan Hartman, Brayden McNabb and... Pete DeBoer. Through all of those penalties, the Golden Knights got just one power play, with Soucy in the box just 1:44 into the game for high-sticking Jonathan Marchessault.
Somehow it also wasn’t the worst first period in the NHL on Wednesday in terms of penalties. The New York Rangers-Washington Capitals game picked up 100 minutes of penalties in the first period, including six fights in the first five minutes.
Vegas broke the scoreless game 8:30 into the second period, as Chandler Stephenson and Mattias Janmark entered in on a 2-on-1 after Hague made a play in the neutral zone to set up Janmark.
The Golden Knights were the better team for the first 40 minutes, as Vegas allowed just two scoring chances and one high-danger chance at 5-on-5 in the first two periods. They generated 0.96 expected goals to 0.31 against at 5-on-5 in the first 40 minutes as well.
A large part of that excellent defense was thanks to Alex Pietrangelo, who, in 18:28 of 5-on-5 time, allowed just 0.16 expected goals against and zero high-danger chances. However, none of the Knights were horrible defensively, as Whitecloud (0.41) and Hague (0.39) allowed the most expected goals against at 5-on-5. It was a much better game than Monday’s contest.
Unfortunately, the Golden Knights were not able to contain the Wild for all three periods, as Minnesota scored twice in the final frame. Both goals came from rookie Kaprizov, who generated four shots and two high-danger chances in 20:25 on Wednesday. On the first goal, Kaprizov was unaccounted for on the side of the net and was able to deflect a pass. On the second, Kaprizov set up off a faceoff and just beat Marc-Andre Fleury.
On a crucial power play with Mats Zuccarello in the box for hooking, the Golden Knights were able to capitalize, as Reilly Smith scored his 10th goal of the season (first in 10 games) at 15:44 of the third:
Game is back to drunk status. Smith's 10th of the year at a crucial time. pic.twitter.com/eANQaTYjPi— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) May 6, 2021
A great pass by William Karlsson at net-front allowed for Smith’s shot to find twine. There was just one second left on the power play when Smith scored.
The power play had struggled earlier in the game, playing 5:59 in this game. The Golden Knights generated five shots — three coming on that final opportunity and zero coming on a power-play chance in the second period — and zero high-danger chances until that final opportunity. But when it was needed, the power play came through.
Smith’s goal sent the game to overtime, where Pietrangelo was able to score for the Golden Knights’ 3-2 victory:
Vegas was able to succeed by largely shutting down the Wild throughout this game. In six minutes of time on the penalty kill in the first period — Vegas didn’t take a penalty after the first period — the Golden Knights allowed just four shots and 10 shot attempts, largely on Minnesota’s first opportunity.
Fleury picked up his 490th career win, moving him into third place on the all-time wins list. Fleury made 26 saves on 28 shots including five of six high-danger. Fleury faced 1.77 expected goals against and faced two rebound shots against.
The Golden Knights once again played 17 skaters with Max Pacioretty missing his second straight game and Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves both still out. Peyton Krebs played his second career game, finishing with 13:57 of ice time. Krebs had a 67.38 percent expected goal share and won two faceoffs.
Vegas picked up a crucial two points in the standings, as the Colorado Avalanche are hot on the Golden Knights’ heels. The Avalanche are facing the San Jose Sharks tonight. Colorado trails the Golden Knights by four points with two games in hand. Vegas will see Colorado one more time on May 10.
The Golden Knights head home for the next three games, two against the St. Louis Blues before hosting the Avalanche. Vegas next plays on Friday at 7 p.m.