Hockey is a dumb sport sometimes. I mean that lovingly.
The Vegas Golden Knights were mere moments from blowing their second two-goal lead in as many games under new coach Peter DeBoer. A dominant first period was enough to keep the Carolina Hurricanes at bay, but Alex Tuch was the hero on this night.
Tuch scored his first goal since Dec. 31, a power-play goal with 2:28 remaining in regulation, to give the Golden Knights a 4-3 win at PNC Arena on Friday.
Tuch took a touch pass from Paul Stastny in front of the net, which began with a Shea Theodore pass from the point. Stastny’s pass led to a wide-open Tuch for the winner.
The fact it got to this point was a tad concerning. The Golden Knights took a 3-1 lead in the third period off Nate Schmidt’s fifth goal of the year at 12:09.
Carolina responded 16 seconds later thanks to Brock McGinn’s goal, and Sebastian Aho scored his 25th goal of the year, on the power play, at 16:21 to tie the game.
That two-goal tally in less than four minutes wiped out an all-but-stellar 40 minutes from the Golden Knights.
Vegas took a 2-0 lead in the first period, in what could only be described as the best period the Golden Knights have had in weeks. Stastny, in his second shift playing with two guys he hardly played with before, scored his third goal in four games off the pass from Reilly Smith for a 1-0 lead at 3:52.
Jonathan Marchessault extended his point streak to three games with the secondary assist on Stastny’s goal, his 100th with the Golden Knights. Marchessault continued his strong play at 9:59 of the opening frame with his 17th goal of the season, sniping one past Petr Mrazek from the right circle.
The Golden Knights had a 16-5 edge in shots after the first 20 minutes, but as the ancient Romans once said, “Quality over quantity.” Vegas got quality shots in the first period while peppering Mrazek throughout. Mrazek, the oft-maligned goaltender, settled down in the final 40 minutes, stopping 19 of 21 shots.
Malcolm Subban made 22 saves in his first start since Jan. 9 and had his first win since Dec. 22. Subban didn’t see a lot of action early on, but he made the most of the shots he did see.
And when he was called upon to make stupid, ridiculous saves to show off the athletic prowess DeBoer raved about this morning, he did that.
Aho might have nightmares.
Aho redeemed himself with that tying goal, but became the goat at 17:26 when he hooked Max Pacioretty. That penalty led to Tuch’s goal.
Marchessault and Stastny had a goal and an assist each, and Reilly Smith had two assists for the Golden Knights (26-20-7), who are now 2-1-1 under DeBoer and head to Nashville for a meeting with the Predators on Saturday.
Vegas reassigned Oscar Dansk to AHL Chicago after the game, clearing the way for Marc-Andre Fleury to return to the lineup. Fleury served a one-game suspension for skipping the All-Star Game.
I’m going to reserve judgment on the Golden Knights until seeing tomorrow’s result. This was a quality win against a really good Eastern Conference team, but both teams were coming off the All-Star Game/Bye Week combo and played for the first time in nine days. Vegas will play a Nashville team that’s fighting for its playoff lives and will be at home.
Much like the mantra after the Ottawa game, it’s one game. It’s a good step, and a good game, but the Golden Knights need to find ways to string these wins together. Saturday will be a good test.
Until then, fight to the death, you wonderful people.