The Vegas Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues went head-to-head Friday night at T-Mobile Arena in front of the largest NHL crowd this season, and the teams put on a show for the 7,567 fans in attendance.
The Golden Knights mounted a comeback by scoring late in the second period and again in the third before taking this one in overtime by a final score of 4-3, courtesy of Jonathan Marchessault.
There were some rough stretches for Robin Lehner, particularly in the second period when he surrendered two questionable goals to put the Knights in a two-goal hole. Lehner finished the game with 22 saves on 25 shots for an .880 save percentage, but the Knights would not have won this game without him. Not only did he get the secondary assist on the game-winning goal, but he made a number of huge saves in the third period and was outstanding in overtime.
The Knights opened the scoring late in the first period when Reilly Smith scored on the doorstep. It was the first of two assists on the night for Nicolas Hague, who used his size and skating to navigate around St. Louis’ Jaden Schwartz before finding Smith.
But just 13 seconds into a Vegas power play less than five minutes later, Vegas surrendered a rare shorthanded tally. An innocent chip-and-chase play by Tyler Bozak led to the equalizer from Ryan O’Reilly, who was left alone in the slot after Bozak beat several Knights to the puck.
Bozak beats Theodore, and no one picks up on the Blues captain at the left circle. pic.twitter.com/2PlZ6iJTZl— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) May 8, 2021
It was the first of three unanswered goals by the Blues, who added two more in the span of 1:44 late in the second frame. Both were soft goals that Lehner should have stopped, including the one from Schwartz, which was especially deflating.
But that didn’t deter the Knights.
In fact, the top line — featuring 20-year-old Peyton Krebs in his third career NHL game — put together an excellent shift in the final minute of the frame, ultimately leading to a point shot beating Jordan Binnington with 10 seconds left in the second period.
Alec Martinez found twine through traffic for his ninth of the year with help from Krebs, who set the screen in front to cut the deficit to one.
It was a huge goal for Vegas, and the Knights carried that momentum into the third period, which has been Vegas’ best all season.
Just under seven minutes into the third, the Knights evened things up at 3-3 off the stick of Nicolas Roy.
A scramble around the net led to a juicy rebound for Roy, who turned and fired it for his sixth goal of the season and 10th point in his last 15 games. Zach Whitecloud took the initial shot, but Hague picked up the primary assist on the play, his second of the night.
Later in the period, Martinez saved the game by helping Lehner defend the yawning cage on a Blues wraparound. Lehner overcommitted and did not get back in time, but Martinez made the stop on the goal line to keep it a 3-3 game.
Both teams seemed content to take this one to overtime, though the Knights came awfully close to a buzzer-beater at the end of the third.
Both teams traded glorious chances in overtime, but Binnington and Lehner were the stars. Lehner stopped Mike Hoffman on a breakaway, and both goalies came up with clutch saves to keep his respective team in the game.
However, with just under 18 seconds left in overtime, Alex Tuch found a wide-open Marchessault, who beat Binnington short-side for the game-winner.
Marchessault is now riding a seven-game point streak; Lehner tallied an assist on the play for his first point of the year.
The Knights are now 9-0 in overtime this season.
It was far from a perfect game for the Knights, who struggled against St. Louis’ forecheck and seemed to force plays unnecessarily.
The Blues led in high-danger Corsi (10-8) at 5-on-5, though Lehner came up with some huge stops at key times in the game, including a point-blank stop in the third period. The Knights have excelled in the final frame this year, but St. Louis held a 5-1 edge in high-danger Corsi and a 66.78 expected goal share at 5-on-5. Vegas outshot the Blues 35-25 on the night.
The power play remains an issue, and it actually led to a goal against tonight. However, a win is a win at this time of year, and the Knights were able to battle back against an inspired opponent.
Krebs had another strong effort and looked comfortable on the top line and on the power play, where he saw 1:15 of ice time. He recorded two hits and one block in 14:56.
The win helps Vegas maintain its four-point lead over the Avalanche in the West Division, though Colorado still has a game in hand. St. Louis clinched the fourth playoff spot in the division.
The Knights and Blues square off again tomorrow night for the regular-season series finale. Vegas is 5-1-1 through seven games.