The Knights were the better team all night, but an impressive performance by Montreal’s netminder kept this close until the very end.
The Knights set a new season-high with 53 shots in the winning effort.
The 53rd was the game-winner, a gorgeous goal by Shea Theodore 1:50 into extra time to lift the Knights to their first win in four games and second win this month.
Vegas was without Zach Whitecloud, who was a late scratch. Also, Mark Stone was unavailable for the matchup after entering COVID-19 protocol earlier in the day.
But that didn’t slow down the Golden Knights’ leading scorer in his 300th career game.
Chandler Stephenson, wearing an “A” on his jersey, opened the scoring just 3:40 into the contest.
IN HIS 300TH GAME pic.twitter.com/9LWJUUgCYt— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 21, 2022
It was a full-line goal for the top line, featuring William Carrier in place of Stone; Stephenson followed up the initial chance by Evgenii Dadonov, capitalizing on the rebound on the Knights’ second shot of the game.
It was the first of two first-period goals scored off rebounds.
The Golden Knights carried play for the majority of the frame, but Montreal evened things up in the final five minutes.
Alex Pietrangelo was taken down along the boards by the linesman, allowing the eventual goal-scorer to walk in unopposed.
Artturi Lehkonen took the initial shot, and Michael Pezzetta pounced on the rebound.
For the second game in a row, it was a strong opening period for the Knights, even if the score didn’t reflect it.
Vegas outshot Montreal 18-10 and held a 32-16 edge in shot attempts at all strengths. But Canadiens netminder Sam Montembeault made some key stops — including two on Keegan Kolesar on a high-danger sequence — to prevent Vegas from taking a bigger lead.
Both teams exchanged power-play goals in the second period.
First was William Karlsson, who recorded his first power-play point of the season off a give-and-go with Jonathan Marchessault.
Wild Bill with his first PP goal of the season!— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) January 21, 2022
MTL 2 | VGK 2, 2nd period pic.twitter.com/IJQGEb65dP
The Canadiens followed suit, as Tyler Toffoli reset the score less than three minutes later.
Robin Lehner was unable to get across the crease to cover the far post against the wide-open Toffoli, who slid the puck under Lehner’s pad.
Former Golden Knights prospect Nick Suzuki set up the play from behind the net.
Once again, the Knights were the better team in the second period, outshooting Montreal 14-8 and out-chancing the Habs by a 12-1 margin at 5-on-5 (13-5 at all strengths).
But once again, the teams came away tied.
Goaltending was the difference.
In the third period, it was Montreal that struck first, taking its first lead of the night when Mike Hoffman scored on the team’s first shot of the frame.
It’s a shot Lehner should have stopped as a routine save; instead, it was the Canadiens’ third goal on 19 shots.
The Knights pushed back and eventually drew a penalty in the second half of the period.
It took just six seconds for Vegas to erase the one-goal deficit, as Marchessault found twine to make it 3-3 with 8:21 remaining.
6 seconds was all Jonathan Marchessault needed to tie it up on the power play!— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) January 21, 2022
MTL 3 | VGK 3, 3rd period pic.twitter.com/m7NmLM1H34
The game went to overtime, which featured great chances for both teams early on.
First, it was Montreal that threatened to grab the extra point. Lehner made three consecutive saves on Suzuki, Jeff Petry and Toffoli, keeping the puck out of the net to keep Vegas in the game.
Karlsson then had a clear-cut breakaway and went five-hole but was unable to get it past Montembeault, who looked behind him on the save.
However, he didn’t need to on the following shot.
That’s because Theodore retrieved the puck, made a gorgeous move around Christian Dvorak and made no mistake on the shot, beating Montembeault for the game-winner, his third point of the night.
if you're reading this, Shea Theodore has better hands than you pic.twitter.com/Jz52QcqcCl— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 21, 2022
The Golden Knights put forth a 60-minute effort and were the better team all night. Montembeault stopped 49 shots, while Lehner gave up three goals on 27.
He did make those key saves in overtime, however, which allowed the Knights to get the all-important extra point.
But it was a team-wide effort.
Dylan Coghlan was noticeably effective and made several key plays on the penalty kill, one of which likely saved a goal. Carrier did not look out of place on the top line. He led the team in individual expected goals (1.12) and was second in individual Corsi (6). The top line managed an 83.33 percent Corsi share, outshooting opponents 13-1 in 10:55 of 5-on-5 play.
In the end, the Knights had a 72.38 percent Corsi share and held a 76-29 edge in Corsi at 5-on-5 and 90-42 at all strengths.
It was a game the Golden Knights deserved to win and found a way to win.
The Knights have several days off before a grueling four-game road trip against four top teams in the Eastern Conference, starting with a back-to-back against Washington and Carolina on Monday and Tuesday.