The Vegas Golden Knights extended their home point streak to nine games (8-0-1) with a 4-3 victory against the Montreal Canadiens Sunday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena.
The win improved Vegas’ record to 9-1-2 since returning from the All-Star break.
All three of Vegas’ trade-deadline acquisitions played a part in the team’s 38th win of the season. Jonathan Quick made 25 saves in his Golden Knights debut, Ivan Barbashev scored twice and Teddy Blueger picked up his first point with Vegas.
The Golden Knights were dominant in the opening frame, out-shooting Montreal 13-5 and taking a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
Shea Theodore opened the scoring 12:37 into the contest with his seventh of the year. Blueger recorded the primary assist on the play for his first point as a member of the Golden Knights.
Shea Theodore with the wrister to put the Golden Knights on pic.twitter.com/I5RQ9sZ9ZQ— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 5, 2023
Just 19 seconds before the end of the period, Vegas struck again as the new-look top line had another strong game. Barbashev scored from in front after a strong passing play by Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault.
Ivan Barbashev nets his first for Vegas! ☝️ pic.twitter.com/xR3ZgEfCqk— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 5, 2023
Vegas took a 3-0 lead in the middle frame on another great passing play, this time by William Karlsson and Reilly Smith on the rush.
March 6, 2023
Smith has two goals in his last three games after scoring just one in his previous 21.
Quick had a strong second period, stopping all 12 shots he faced.
But the Canadiens got on the board early in the final frame, as Mike Matheson beat Quick just over two minutes in.
Smooth moves from Mike Matheson pic.twitter.com/44vPNXDsIU— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 6, 2023
Nearly six minutes later, Barbashev netted his second of the game to restore Vegas’ three-goal lead.
Barbashev is on HATTY WATCH! pic.twitter.com/AgkdU35iGo— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 6, 2023
However, Montreal responded immediately, striking 23 seconds later to pull within two. Alex Belzile beat Quick cleanly, though it was an excellent top-shelf snipe.
Alex Belzile with the Jason Spezza special to beat Jonathan Quick. pic.twitter.com/RlNgkvbLsM— Scott Matla (@scottmatla) March 6, 2023
The Canadiens got another goal just 35 seconds later to make it a 4-3 game, as Rafael Harvey-Pinard beat Quick five-hole from in front.
Rafael Harvey-Pinard finishes off Ylonen's centering feed for Montreal's second goal in 35 seconds!#GoHabsGo pic.twitter.com/Tt7rwOLDoD— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 6, 2023
The two quick goals prompted a rare timeout by Bruce Cassidy.
The move proved sufficient, as a settled Vegas team was able to hold on for the win and two points.
“We got it to the finish line, so that’s the important part,” Cassidy said after the game when asked about Vegas’ response to the timeout. “I thought we played better, more assertive, respectful, trying to close the game out. We lost our way there for a while, obviously gave Montreal a chance to get back in the game. We need to correct that. But at the end of the day, after that I thought we were better.”
Quick stopped 25 of 28 shots for an .893 save percentage in his first game with the Golden Knights. While he was far from lights-out, he had a strong second period when Vegas was outshot 12-4 and did enough to help the team win.
Barbashev, who has been going to the net and getting rewarded, has four points in his last three games, and the top-line trio of Barbashev, Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault has combined for 14 points in that stretch.
The Golden Knights came close to blowing a three-goal lead in the third period in a game that was closer than it should have been. But the Golden Knights capitalized on chances and, once again, found a way to win, even against a lesser opponent than recent matchups.
“You can’t be upset when you win,” Cassidy said. “You just can’t. It’s too hard to win in this league.”
The Golden Knights have been doing a lot of that over the last four weeks, accumulating points at a critical time of the season. Vegas has won nine of its last 12, coming away with 20 of a possible 24 points.
The Golden Knights will look to continue that trend when they hit the road for a five-game trip starting Tuesday in Florida. The Golden Knights will take on the Panthers and Lightning followed by the Hurricanes, Blues and Flyers.
Vegas is 3-0-0 in March and is back on top of the Western Conference standings with 82 points in 63 games.