The Vegas Golden Knights snapped a two-game losing streak in convincing fashion when they defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-1 Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Coming into the game, Minnesota was the hottest team in the NHL, but Vegas handed the Wild just their second regulation loss in 22 games. Vegas did so by playing with a calm and a confidence that had been lacking in recent games.
That began and ended with Laurent Brossoit, who got his second straight start and made his fourth straight appearance after filling in for Jonathan Quick in the third period of Tuesday’s game against Edmonton. Brossoit finished the game with 29 saves on 30 shots and was excellent between the pipes for Vegas.
Marc-Andre Fleury was in the crease for Minnesota; he wasn’t lights-out early on but finished the game with 39 saves on 42 shots for a .929 save percentage. He stopped 20 of 20 shots in the third period, but it wasn’t enough to overtake his former team.
It was all Minnesota early, as the Wild recorded the first nine shots on goal; Vegas didn’t record its first shot until nine minutes into the frame.
Minnesota jumped out to a 1-0 lead exactly five minutes into the contest as Matt Boldy continued his torrid pace, deflecting a point shot by John Klingberg up and over Brossoit.
However, the Golden Knights made the most of their limited opportunities later in the period.
First, Jack Eichel set up Ben Hutton for his third goal of the season. The Golden Knights took advantage of Jake Middleton’s broken stick, as Hutton drove to the net for the one-timer, evening things up at 1-1 at 9:55 of the first.
Then, Zach Whitecloud found twine from the left-side boards, firing a top-shelf laser that went post-and-in above Fleury’s left shoulder, making it a 2-1 game with 3:47 remaining.
In total, the Wild outshot Vegas 13-8 but held a much more narrow edge in Corsi (15-14), per Natural Stat Trick. The Golden Knights killed off the lone power play of the period.
The Golden Knights extended their lead to two goals when Brett Howden beat Fleury cleanly from the slot to make it 3-1 just 2:21 into the middle frame.
It was Vegas’ third goal on just 10 shots.
Eichel recorded the secondary helper on the play, giving him two assists in the game. However, it was Ivan Barbashev’s sneaky pass that set Howden up for his fifth goal of the year.
The Golden Knights played very well in the second period, outskating the Wild on almost every loose puck and challenging Minnesota in all three zones. The Golden Knights generated quality scoring chances and got fantastic goaltending from Brossoit, who shut down all 13 shots he faced.
The Golden Knights had two power plays but were unable to break through, as the two clubs went a combined 0-for-3 on the man-advantage in the second.
The game opened up considerably in the final 20 minutes, with both teams trading end-to-end chances. Both Fleury and Brossoit were up to the challenge, though.
Much like in the first period, the Wild were the better team early on. But the Golden Knights took over in the second half of the period and played to win rather than sitting on the two-goal lead.
Vegas didn’t allow a shot in the final 10 minutes and ultimately outshot Minnesota 21-4 in the final frame.
The Wild pulled Fleury with 3:30 to go, but the Golden Knights shut things down and closed out the win, sealing it with an empty-net goal by Chandler Stephenson with 1:14 remaining. It was Stephenson’s first goal since March 9.
In the end, Vegas delivered a decisive defensive effort against a red-hot Minnesota offense to come away victorious.
After less-than-inspiring performances against Edmonton and San Jose, Vegas responded with a stellar effort against one of the top teams in the NHL with a critical two points on the line.
“I thought it was one of our more complete games. How it’s supposed to look,” Bruce Cassidy said after the game.
The Golden Knights got superb goaltending from Brossoit, who was particularly strong in the second period and early in the third.
“[Brossoit] looked a little more like before he was hurt,” Cassidy said. “I think it’s safe to say he was under control, finding pucks, and rebounds were not in harm’s way. … No unforced errors for a goalteder, that’s what it looked like to me. We need that. We’re like everyone else, we need solid goaltending. He looked comfortable out there.”
Brossoit was poised and stabilized things during Minnesota’s particularly threatening stretches. He finished the contest with an impressive .967 save percentage, and the only goal he gave up came on an odd deflection.
He got goal support from some unlikely names, with Hutton, Whitecloud and Howden coming into the game with a combined 10 goals on the season. However, it was indicative of the team-wide effort Vegas employed to get the job done.
That being said, Eichel stepped up once again, extending his point streak to five games (1-7–8) with another multi-point effort. Stephenson also finished the game with a goal and an assist.
With goals from Hutton and Whitecloud, Saturday’s tilt marked the first time Vegas got two goals in the same game from defensemen other than Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore since April 9, 2022.
This marked the first time Vegas won after giving up the first goal since defeating Calgary 4-3 in overtime back on Feb. 23.
The Golden Knights secured two critical points to keep pace in the Pacific Division, topping 100 points for the second time in franchise history. Vegas remains in first place in the Western Conference with 101 points, though the margin for error continues to shrink.
The Golden Knights will look for similar results when Vegas and Minnesota square off in a rematch on Monday as they complete the home-and-home and wrap up the season series. It will be the first half of a road back-to-back for the Golden Knights, who take on the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.