Golden Knights 4, Sabres 2: Vegas wins eighth straight in Lehner’s debut

The Knights now hold a six-point lead in the Pacific Division.

The Vegas Golden Knights tied a franchise record with their eighth straight win Friday night at T-Mobile Arena, securing a 4-2 victory against the visiting Buffalo Sabres.

Robin Lehner made 32 saves in his Golden Knights debut.

Once again, things got off to a rough start for Vegas.

In fact, the Sabres scored on their very first shot of the night off a brutal turnover by Zach Whitecloud.

There wasn’t much Lehner could do on the shot from Dominik Kahun, who was making his Buffalo debut (clearly there must be something about making a debut in Vegas that just leads to goals).

In any case, Nicolas Roy made it a 1-1 game later in the opening frame on a gorgeous backhand-forehand deke.

Nick Cousins got the primary assist on the play with a perfect centering feed, giving him two points in two games as a Knight.

After a scoreless second, the Knights lit the lamp twice in the span of two minutes and 19 seconds early in the third, which ended up being the difference in the game.

First, William Karlsson found twine just over three minutes into the period, giving Vegas its first lead of the night.

It was a full-line goal from the second line, which featured Chandler Stephenson in place of the injured Mark Stone.

Reilly Smith followed suit when he scored what ended up being the game-winning goal at 5:25 of the third, setting a new career high in goals in the process with his 26th of the season.

Whitecloud picked up his first career NHL point with an assist on the play.

Smith later scored an empty-net goal to make it 4-1 for his 17th career two-goal game.

Though the Knights gave up a goal in the final minute of regulation, Vegas came away with the 4-2 win, its eighth straight win and seventh straight on home ice.

Lehner finished the night with a .941 save percentage, stopping 32 of 34 shots. He played a key role in what was a close game for most of the night, and he was especially sharp down the stretch when the Sabres poured on the pressure after Smith made it 3-1.

Though it wasn’t a perfect game, it was another strong team effort by the Knights, who got goals from three out of four lines while holding Buffalo’s stars off the scoresheet.

Aside from the first 2:16 of the first and the final 12 seconds of the third, the Knights shut down a Buffalo offense that just bolstered its middle six with two forward additions at the trade deadline, and the Knights went 1-for-1 on the penalty kill in a game that was played almost exclusively at 5-on-5.

With tonight’s win, the Knights (36-22-8) close out the month of February with a 10-2-1 record. They have gone 8-1-1 over their last 10 and now hold a six-point lead in the Pacific Division, the largest lead in the division all season.

The Knights improve to 21-10-4 at home, though Vegas has just six home games remaining this season. Nine of the final 16 games are against division opponents.

Next up for the Knights is a home tilt against the Kings on Sunday, though it’s unclear exactly who will be in the lineup.

Stone’s injury is still being evaluated, and Tomas Nosek left tonight’s game and did not return.

However, Pete DeBoer has already named Marc-Andre Fleury as the starter for that game.

He and the Knights will have a chance to set a franchise record in wins and will look to continue to pad their division lead.