Golden Knights defeat Senators 3-2 in thrilling shootout win

This was a goaltending duel from start to finish as Vegas recorded a franchise-high 54 shots on goal.

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up a 3-2 shootout victory against the Ottawa Senators Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena behind strong efforts from the Vegas penalty kill and Marc-Andre Fleury. Jonathan Marchessault scored the game-winning goal in the fifth round of the shootout.

Notably, the game was Mark Stone’s first against his former team (and it also marked Erik Brannstrom’s return to Vegas).

Stone entered this game as one of the very few Golden Knights yet to play a revenge game in the NHL (the other two are Cody Glass and Nic Hague, both rookies). Stone picked up a primary assist on a goal from Nick Holden and was a puck driver all night, with a 60 percent Corsi and 68.3 percent expected goals share.

Though it wasn’t hard to be a puck driver in this game since Vegas registered 52 shots on goal in regulation, a season-high. They had 54 throughout the game, a new franchise record.

Anders Nilsson stood on his head for Ottawa throughout the game with a .963 save percentage, and the Knights missed the net on other key opportunities.

Vegas got more opportunities in every category than the Senators, but Ottawa kept it closer than Vegas would have liked. At even strength, shots were 38-30, scoring chances were 31-26 and high-danger chances were 15-12. The Golden Knights were outmatched in terms of expected goal share as well, having just a 46.87 percent share.

But Vegas’ penalty kill was excellent, allowing just eight shots against in eight minutes, and the Knights had a dominant power play, even if its lone goal came with just one second left on the very first opportunity of the night. That, in conjunction with Fleury, who posted a .949 save percentage and was the better goaltender in the shootout, helped Vegas get the win.

The game got off to a hot start. The Golden Knights got goals from Holden and Reilly Smith, who regained the team lead in goals with his sixth of the season. The Senators also got on the board in the first period courtesy of Thomas Chabot, and there was even a fight between Ryan Reaves and Scott Sabourin.

After an excellent-but-scoreless second period where the Knights were shorthanded far too often (they spent four minutes on the penalty kill through the second and started the third period shorthanded), Vegas allowed a goal early in the third when Jean-Gabriel Pageau knotted things up at 2-2. Neither team was able to break that tie through 60 minutes.

It was all Ottawa in overtime as the Senators outshot Vegas 5-2, but Fleury again made the difference and came up huge on several occasions.

He also got a little luck from the hockey gods when Brady Tkachuk had a chance to end the game but sent the puck through the crease.

But the players in front of Fleury made the difference in the shootout, as Brandon Pirri, Shea Theodore and Marchessault scored to lift the Knights to victory. Ottawa got shootout goals from Vladislav Namestnikov and Tyler Ennis.

It was a big moment for each of the Knights who scored. Through the first eight games of the season, Marchessault and William Karlsson have combined for just one goal while Smith has six. Getting the shootout winner should be a confidence builder for Marchessault, which is something the Golden Knights need.

Pirri entered the lineup for the first time since Cody Eakin returned from injury as Valentin Zykov was suspended 20 games for PED use earlier in the day. Until Alex Tuch returns from injury, it could be Pirri’s job to lose, and this will be a big stretch of games for Pirri to prove he’s worth keeping over Zykov on the depth chart.

This was also the first game wherein the third line actually looked good. The trio posted a 63.16 percent Corsi and 55.56 percent shot share when on the ice together at 5-on-5. That’s good news for Pirri.

Finally, Theodore’s shootout goal kept the Golden Knights alive after Ennis gave Ottawa the lead in the fourth round.

Overall, Theodore had a strong game against Ottawa’s top line of Tkachuk, Colin White and Anthony Duclair, finishing the night with a 64.58 percent Corsi and 61.29 percent shot share. But he misplayed Pageau on Ottawa’s third-period strike and had a rough third period in general. He also had two giveaways on the night, which adds to his seven so far this season. However, he was clutch in the shootout and ultimately sparked the victory in the next round.

The Knights next face the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday as they kick off a three-game road trip.