The Vegas Golden Knights pulled off an impressive comeback victory Thursday night against the Pacific Division rival Calgary Flames. Vegas trailed 3-1 after two but scored twice in a dominant third period before winning in extra time.
Alex Pietrangelo scored the game-winner just 42 seconds into overtime as the Golden Knights scored three unanswered goals to jump back into the win column, improving their record to 6-0-1 since the All-Star break.
The turnaround was a combination of Vegas finding its game in the second period and Calgary running out of gas after playing the night before. The Flames remain winless at T-Mobile Arena (0-7-1).
The Golden Knights gave up just one shot on goal in the third period, tying a franchise record for the fewest shots allowed in a single period. The effort came two games after a stellar showing in the third period of a 5-4 win against Tampa Bay.
VGK matched a team record with 1 shot allowed in the third period tonight for the fourth time ever and the first since just before the pandemic.— VGK Communications (@VGK_PR) February 24, 2023
2/23/23 vs. CGY (third)
3/1/20 vs. LAK (third)
2/26/19 vs. DAL (third)
10/26/18 vs. TBL (third)
But the home team got off to a rough start. In fact, Calgary recorded 18 shots in the first period, held a 34-14 edge in shot attempts and generated 15 scoring chances and seven high-danger chances, according to Natural Stat Trick. If not for Laurent Brossoit’s 17-save effort in the opening frame, this game could have gone very differently.
Brossoit finished the night with 25 saves on 28 shots for an .893 save percentage, and for the second game in a row, he gave the Golden Knights a chance to win. In the end, the club rewarded him, helping him earn his first NHL victory since March 4, 2022. Brossoit is 1-0-1 in two games since taking over for the injured Adin Hill.
The one shot Brossoit couldn’t stop in the first 20 minutes came courtesy of Jakob Pelletier, who scored off a rebound on the man-advantage at 13:25 of the first.
Jakob Pelletier scores on the power play! His third goal of the season.— Robert Munnich (@RingOfFireCGY) February 24, 2023
1-0 Flames! pic.twitter.com/nGjcaTcl7S
The first period bore an uncomfortable resemblance to the Oct. 18 meeting between these clubs in which Calgary had six power plays in the second period. This time, Vegas was called for three infractions: hooking on Byron Froese (in the lineup for the injured Nicolas Roy), holding on Shea Theodore and high-sticking on Jonathan Marchessault. With the help of Brossoit, Vegas held the Flames to just one goal on nine shots and 13 attempts.
Jonathan Huberdeau made it 2-0 just 1:24 into the second on a nice all-around play by Calgary.
Jonathan Huberdeau takes Pelletier's cross-crease pass to his backhand and buries, 2-0 Flames!#Flames pic.twitter.com/n5UTwqO9Vu— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) February 24, 2023
But the Golden Knights began to find their legs as the second period progressed and eventually broke through when Jack Eichel scored on the power play to cut the deficit in half. Michael Amadio provided the screen for Eichel’s 19th of the year.
A Jack of all trades. pic.twitter.com/8BKdt9tFrE— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 24, 2023
The goal ended Vegas’ 0-for-25 run on the man-advantage and was the Golden Knights’ first power-play goal since Jan. 22 and fourth in 2023.
However, the red-hot Mikael Backlund restored Calgary’s two-goal lead just 2:07 later, beating Brossoit on a deflection to make it 3-1 at 16:34.
The tip jar is open for Mikael Backlund. pic.twitter.com/zrjBTn4bKJ— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 24, 2023
But it was the third period where the Golden Knights truly shined, returning to the solid defensive structure that has served them so well over the last seven games. Not only did the Golden Knights outscore the Flames 2-0, but Vegas held the Flames to a single shot on goal.
Zach Whitecloud made it 3-2 just over five minutes into the frame with his second goal of the season.
The forecast calls for Whitecloud. ☁️ pic.twitter.com/9oaQrU9TxK— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) February 24, 2023
William Carrier, who had yet another standout game and who really pushed the pace for Vegas, scored his 16th goal of the year at 12:25 of the third to even things up at 3-3.
Name somebody hotter than William Carrier right now and don't you dare say McDavid pic.twitter.com/yDX5ZvC0me— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) February 24, 2023
The Golden Knights completed the comeback less than a minute into overtime.
Eichel carried the puck into the zone before feeding it to Marchessault, who fired it off the post; Pietrangelo was there to put home the rebound in the crease to seal the win for Vegas.
PIETRANGELOVERTIME IS THE BEST TIME pic.twitter.com/gv424Z4nTU— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) February 24, 2023
It was another game in which the Golden Knights won by committee.
The third line of Carrier, Chandler Stephenson and Phil Kessel was Vegas’ most effective trio, leading 6-2 in shots and 15-6 in shot attempts (71.43 percent Corsi share) while maintaining a 67.58 percent expected goal share in 9:49.
Carrier has six points in his last seven games and eight points in his last nine since returning from injury. His 16 goals are the fifth-most on the team behind Eichel, Reilly Smith, Mark Stone and Marchessault; Carrier’s previous career high was nine. He also leads the club and is tied for fourth in the NHL with seven game-winning goals.
Eichel had one of his best performances of the season, recording two points and leading all Vegas forwards in ice time (21:01), trailing only Brayden McNabb (24:23) and Shea Theodore (23:18). It was the most Eichel has played since Jan. 16 against Dallas (22:10), and he has only played more in six games all year.
Bruce Cassidy was encouraged by the fact that the Golden Knights were able to stay in a physical battle against a team playing playoff-style hockey. “Getting the two points is obviously what you want, but I was very pleased [by] the fact that we got back into the game by playing hard, matching them hit for hit, winning our puck battles, [doing] what they did to us in the first period,” he said. “You gotta be able to win those games if you expect to advance.”
The win is significant for the Golden Knights, who appeared to falter Tuesday in Chicago after a string of five consecutive wins reminiscent of the team’s dominant play from early in the season. Though the Golden Knights got off to a very slow start, they battled hard, stayed in the game and found a way to win.
Brossoit was a huge part of it.
“He’s come in and given us two really solid games where we haven’t been really great in front of him for [60 minutes],” Cassidy said.
“He was strong when he needed to be, made some really high-end saves,” Cassidy said. “[Calgary] generated a lot on our penalty kill. ... We got through it, and that’s what you need good goaltending for.”
The win helped the Golden Knights maintain their lead in the Pacific Division standings; Vegas sits atop the Western Conference with 75 points and a points percentage of .647 through 58 games. Vegas has a game in hand over Los Angeles and Edmonton, who currently occupy the second and third seeds in the division.
“I don’t think we ever thought we couldn’t win it,” Cassidy said after the game.
That’s the mentality the Golden Knights have lived by since the All-Star break, and it’s the reason the club is playing its best hockey in months.
They will look to keep it going when they host the Dallas Stars on Saturday before heading to Colorado on Monday.