Golden Knights rout Flames 7-3, break another expansion team record

No James Neal? No problem.

The Vegas Golden Knights entered Wednesday night’s game against the Calgary Flames coming off one of their worst performances of the season. Vegas was blanked 2-0 against the Anaheim Ducks Monday after struggling to find chemistry with James Neal, Shea Theodore and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare all out of the lineup. That trio would once again be out of commission against the Flames.

This time, though, Vegas looked like themselves again despite that group of players being inactive for the second consecutive contest. And what better way to respond after a shutout than by having seven (7!) different players score goals to obliterate a division rival and by earning the record for most points in an inaugural season in NHL history?

Simple. There is no better way.

The fun started just 2:28 into the game when Ryan Carpenter scored his sixth goal in nine games in one of the coolest ways possible — a between-the-legs tally to give Vegas the early lead. What a beauty.

Later in the period, William Karlsson nearly gave Vegas a two-goal lead on a breakaway, but his shot trickled just wide of David Rittich.

Vegas had Calgary pinned in its own zone for much of the first period, but the Flames did eventually respond late in the period. With a little over three minutes remaining in the opening period, T.J. Brodie deflected a Travis Hamonic shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game up at one apiece.

Vegas didn’t let up after Brodie’s tally, though. Thanks to a late Calgary penalty, Karlsson scored a deflection goal of his own on the power play with time dying down in the period.

The energy from the first third didn’t die down during intermission. If anything, things only got more exciting in the second period.

Calgary opened the scoring just 20 seconds into the middle third when Dougie Hamilton beat Fleury with a sick wrister from a ridiculous angle.

Less than two minutes after Hamilton’s goal, Reilly Smith scored a greaseball to give Vegas the 3-2 lead.

Of course, Calgary would again respond to Vegas’ tally. Not long after the game’s halfway point, Matthew Tkachuk scored after deflecting a Hamilton wrister, which had also deflected off the skate of Cody Eakin, who was without his stick.

Why was Eakin without a stick? Sean Monahan slashed it out of his hands, sending it 15 feet into the air. No call was made.

Gerard Gallant wasn’t too thrilled about it.

What he was thrilled about, though, was the goal Alex Tuch scored a few minutes later. David Perron entered the zone, fought off a Calgary defender and found Tuch wide open on the right wing. Tuch then roofed it past Rittich to give Vegas yet another lead.

Vegas finally started to pull away in the third period, but not before what looked to be another game-tying goal from the Flames. Roughly 90 seconds into the final third, Sean Monahan knocked a loose puck past Fleury, but Gallant would end up challenging the goal. Long before the goal was scored, Monahan was caught offside while entering the zone. After review, the ruling was overturned and the period had to basically be restarted all over again.

As it turned out, Gallant’s successful challenge ended up being a major turning point in the game. Not long after Monahan’s goal was overturned, the Golden Knights finally got some breathing room thanks to a point blast from Luca Sbisa.

A little after the period’s halfway point, Tomas Nosek kept the party going by deflecting a Sbisa point shot past Rittich to give Vegas the three-goal lead. Calgary challenged the goal in hopes of finding a trace of goaltender interference, but the ruling on the ice stood as called. Good goal.

That wouldn’t be it for Vegas, though. Eakin scored for the first time since Jan. 5 right off the draw to complete the touchdown (and extra point) to make the score 7-3, which all but crushed Calgary’s enthusiasm for the rest of the game.

This was a statement game for the Golden Knights. Just two days after being shut out in front of their own fans in the T-Mobile Arena, they turned around and absolutely obliterated one of the better teams in their division.

Funny how hockey works sometimes, huh?

The Golden Knights return to action Friday when they take on the Vancouver Canucks at T-Mobile. That will be Vegas’ final contest of their seven-game homestand before playing a back-to-back with the Los Angeles Kings.