Golden Knights defeat Rangers 4-1, win third straight game for first time this season
The Vegas Golden Knights did the unthinkable when they defeated the New York Rangers 4-1 Monday night at Madison Square Garden.
They didn’t set NHL records or play the greatest game in the history of sports, but they did win their third straight game for the first time in the 2019-20 campaign, and they did so in convincing fashion.
One of the keys to the game was getting off to a strong start, and the Knights did exactly that.
It was all Vegas in the first period, and Alex Tuch got the Knights on the board just 1:34 into the game.
It was a fluky goal as Tuch’s shot squeezed through Henrik Lundqvist and stopped in the crease; it didn’t cross the goal line until King Henrik himself accidentally knocked it into his own net.
But Tuch was much more actively involved when he scored his second of the game just 2:16 later, giving Vegas a 2-0 lead not even four minutes into the contest.
Nate Schmidt sent a perfect centering feed to Tuch, who was all alone in front for the redirect as the Knights capitalized on the man advantage.
FLAMETHROWER, THY NAME IS ALEX TUCH. pic.twitter.com/FCXT1u80YH— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) December 3, 2019
To their credit, the Rangers came out charging in the middle frame. However, a costly turnover at the blue line sent Reilly Smith on a breakaway, of which he took full advantage, beating Lundqvist on the backhand.
Team-leading 12th goal for No. 19.— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) December 3, 2019
Less than two minutes later, Vegas converted on the power play once again as a gorgeous no-look feed from Cody Glass set up Max Pacioretty for his 10th of the season.
The prodigal son with one hell of a feed right above the goal line, and Pacioretty snipes it. Two goals in less than two minutes. #VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/DQtkIJMycr— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) December 3, 2019
It was Vegas’ second goal in under two minutes, and it gave the Knights a convincing 4-0 lead.
Brendan Lemieux cut the deficit to three when he scored on a deflection late in the middle frame, setting up the Rangers for a potential comeback in the third.
The Blueshirts came uncomfortably close to lighting the lamp a few times, but while they had three power plays and a lot of scoring opportunities in the final frame, they were unable to rally as Malcolm Subban and the Knights stood tall, taking this one 4-1.
The victory also marks Subban’s third straight win; he wasn’t overly tested but made a few great stops and all the necessary ones, finishing the game with 29 saves and a .967 save percentage.
Jesus Christmas. pic.twitter.com/jCdICtcppS— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) December 3, 2019
The Knights didn’t dominate from a possession standpoint, but they were in control all night, particularly with a brilliant start. In fact, Vegas registered 13 shots in the first 7:29 of the game.
It was also a breakthrough performance for the power play, which had gone 1-for-28 over the previous eight games. Vegas’ special teams had a stellar night overall, going 2-for-2 on the man advantage and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.
The Rangers finished the contest with 23 giveaways, and the Knights’ forecheck was aggressive all night.
Plus, it was a strong showing by the new-look third line, which featured Glass at center and Tuch and William Carrier on the wings. All three finished with Corsi For percentages above 50 percent, and the trio combined for a CF% of 53.85 despite getting only 7:42 of ice time as a unit at 5-on-5.
The Golden Knights have been inconsistent all season, and they’ve fallen short on multiple occasions following consecutive wins.
However, tonight was the exception.
It only took 29 games for the Knights to overcome the three-game winning streak hurdle, but it almost feels like a brand new season now that they have. After all, the win improves Vegas’ record to 14-11-4, good for third overall in the Pacific Division.
Vegas has a quick turnaround with a game against the Devils tomorrow night. The Knights then take on the Islanders on Thursday before Sunday’s home rematch against the Rangers.
Tomorrow’s game won’t be an easy one as New Jersey will be eager to bounce back from an ugly 7-1 loss in Buffalo.
But the fact that the Knights have the luxury of even attempting to win their fourth straight game is not insignificant.