Just as we all predicted over the summer, the Vegas Golden Knights are the top team in the Pacific Division nearly two months into their inaugural season.
The Golden Knights’ first shot at defending their spot atop the division came Friday against a tough San Jose Sharks team that, surprisingly, has had a hard time scoring goals this season. For the Sharks, who rank dead last in goals scored this season, a win against the Golden Knights would be a huge confidence booster as they look to get their season back on track.
Unfortunately for San Jose, the Golden Knights don’t lose hockey games at the T-Mobile Arena very often. And that didn’t change Friday evening.
Much like the Golden Knights’ 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks Wednesday, Vegas dominated early and managed to register 12 shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. This time, though, the Golden Knights had no trouble solving a hot goaltender. Martin Jones looked rusty early on and Vegas took full advantage.
Defenseman Shea Theodore opened up the scoring under four minutes into the contest, finding twine for the first time in a Golden Knights sweater.
Just after the midway point of the first period, James Neal doubled the Golden Knights’ lead as he recorded the 250th goal of his NHL career.
With Vegas having its way with a struggling San Jose team, the T-Mobile Arena was buzzing throughout the majority of the opening period — at least until Tomas Hertl managed to halt the Golden Knights’ momentum with less than three minutes remaining before the first intermission.
It didn’t take very long for Vegas get back in the saddle, though. To be exact, it took just 10 seconds into the middle period for the Golden Knights to extend their lead once again. This time, it was William Karlsson getting the tally on the man advantage.
That goal would spell the end of the night for Jones in net. Aaron Dell would take over in the crease, but that didn’t make much of a difference.
Minutes later, Karlsson would score another to give Vegas a 4-1 lead. That’s now 12 goals on the season for Wild Bill.
With the three-goal lead, it appeared the Golden Knights had the game in the bag, but San Jose managed to fight their way back with three goals in the middle period to tie the game up.
Their run of dominance began with a Brent Burns tally from the point. Oddly enough, this was Burns’ first goal of the season.
Later in the period, it was Chris Tierney who cut the Vegas lead in half.
Just under four minutes later, Mikkel Boedker knotted the game up.
It was a period to forget for the Golden Knights and the beginning of the third period didn’t look to be much better. After a bad period from Maxime Lagace, the Golden Knights put Malcolm Subban in net for the final third for his first in-game action since late October. Lagace was noticeably absent from the bench following his removal.
Subban wasn’t safe from the swarming Sharks either. Early in the period, Logan Couture managed to get one past Subban to give the Sharks their first lead of the night.
Or so we thought.
The Golden Knights challenged the goal for goaltender interference and it paid off. Upon review, it was determined that Joonas Donskoi had initiated contact with Subban that prohibited him from making the save on Couture’s goal. The ruling on the ice was reversed and the game remained knotted up.
The third period would end with the same score it started with. The Knights and Sharks would head to overtime and, once again, Vegas pulled off some magic beyond regulation.
Jonathan Marchessault, who took full advantage of the space the Sharks (not-so-wisely) gave him, creptin from the left faceoff circle to wrist one off of Jumbo Joe Thornton and into the net to give Vegas its eighth straight win at home.
It wasn’t as easy as it looked like it would’ve been early in the contest, but Vegas pulled out the win and successfully defended their spot atop the Pacific standings. What a game.
While the two points certainly feel nice, it’s hard not to be concerned with the condition of David Perron, who left the game in the second period after taking a dirty, unnecessary hit from Timo Meier.
After this hit, Perron attempted a shift, but headed to the locker room afterward for the rest of the evening.
If Perron is significantly injured, his absence will undoubtedly have a major impact on the Golden Knights. Perron averages just under a point per game and is in the conversation for best player on Vegas’ roster.
As for Meier, it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up receiving some discipline from the league. It appeared he made no attempt to avoid contact with Perron and purposely laid a big hit on a defenseless player, which certainly warrants a suspension or, at the very least, a hefty fine.
For more information on Perron’s condition, stay with Knights On Ice for updates as they come.