Sports are weird. Hockey is weirder.
No lead is ever safe, apparently, and that is the lesson the Vegas Golden Knights taught us on their Sunday trip to the home of the Mouse.
The Golden Knights had a 5-3 lead. William Karlsson just wrapped up his third career hat trick. That should be the story we’re talking about tonight. Instead, we have to sprinkle in Vegas allowing two goals in the final three minutes to the Anaheim Ducks, both with the net empty, and going from two points, to one point, to back to two points.
What is even hockey?
Alas, Shea Theodore is the hero of this bizarre hockey game, scoring with 1:10 remaining in overtime to give the Golden Knights their sixth straight win, 6-5 against the Ducks at Honda Center.
Yes, everything you read prior was true. Karlsson, who had not scored a goal in 21 games (missed eight of them with a broken finger) busted out of a slump in the biggest way imaginable. He would’ve been rewarded with his second career natural hat trick had Nick Ritchie not scored his second of the game 21 seconds into the third to tie it 3-3.
This came after Karlsson scored his first goal with 52 seconds left in the second period to give Vegas a 3-2 lead; something that seemed insurmountable when Ritchie gave Anaheim a 2-1 lead at 10:03 of the second. John Gibson was playing like John Gibson, and Malcolm Subban playing the role as his counterpart was not going to be easy on this night.
Alec Martinez, Norris Trophy favorite (and you can’t prove me otherwise) scored his second goal in three games at 15:51 to tie it 2-2.
Karlsson gave Vegas a 4-3 lead at 6:28 of the third, seconds after a Vegas power play expired, and then No. 71 capped it off with a backhand over Gibson’s left shoulder to make it 5-3.
The Golden Knights were on their way to a win, and then learned the hard way that six is greater than five. Adam Henrique scored two goals in a span of 1:42, both with Gibson pulled, to tie the game at 5-5 and somehow squeeze a point out of this.
Somehow, Gibson allowed six goals but was still phenomenal. Anaheim’s all-world goalie made 22 saves, but made some ridiculous ones to keep his team in it, but as has been the case for the past three years, the Ducks fell apart in front of Gibson when they needed him most.
It should also be noted that Subban had one hell of a game, himself. Vegas’ backup netminder made 25 saves and played very strong. Prior to Henrique’s first goal, he sprawled out to make a stop so great that not a soul was in front to stop Henrique’s rebound. And on his second goal, when there are five people around the net, it’s hard to find the little round thing.
Anaheim had 1:14 of power play time in overtime thanks to an interference call on Martinez, but the Golden Knights were able to kill that penalty. Subban made a crucial pad save on Henrique’s hatty attempt early into overtime, and Rickard Rakell hit a post with 3:20 left that somehow crept behind Subban’s right pad.
The Ducks had two shots that entire overtime period; that one from Rakell was the last.
The Golden Knights had one shot the entire overtime period. That one is why the Golden Knights escaped Disneyland with a win.
Mark Stone had four assists (all PRIMARY) for the Golden Knights, giving him his third game of at least four points in the month of February — two of them have come during this season-long six-game winning streak (four assists against the St. Louis Blues that started this whole thing).
Also, I went this whole way without mentioning that Patrick Brown scored and Gage Quinney got his first NHL point. Brown was recalled from AHL Chicago earlier in the day to fill in for the injured Nicolas Roy, who is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Brown, who skated on the fourth line, scored on a rebound from Quinney’s shot in front of Gibson, to give Vegas a 1-0 lead at 12:49 of the first period.
The list of Golden Knights scoring in their team debut is as long as Chris Jericho reading off his List of 1,004 holds.
Yet despite all of that, the Golden Knights (34-22-8) hold the longest active winning streak in the league and are three points clear of the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.
Noteworthy: The Oilers have two games in hand.
Also noteworthy: Connor McDavid is back and will play Wednesday.
But also noteworthy: The Golden Knights look really good right now, and are looking like the team we all thought could challenge to be the best team in the Western Conference before the season began.
And I went this long without reminding you all that the trade deadline is tomorrow.
A lot is happening, but that’s a good thing for the Golden Knights.