Golden Knights pull off gutsy 3-2 win against Flames but suffer two more injuries
Reilly Smith and Logan Thompson did not finish the game.
The Vegas Golden Knights came away with two critical points in their third straight win and sixth straight on the road when they defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 Thursday night at Scotiabank Saddledome.
It was a bizarre game that featured two disallowed goals and a late goalie change, but the Golden Knights got off to another strong start, capitalized on key chances and played sound defensively to beat a desperate team and improve to 2-0-0 on this road trip.
The Golden Knights never trailed and are now 10-0-0 this month when scoring first and 16-3-2 since the All-Star break.
However, the Golden Knights suffered two potentially-devastating injuries, as Reilly Smith and Logan Thompson were unable to finish the game.
It was Thompson’s first game back in the starter’s crease after missing 18 contests, but he headed down the tunnel late in the third period, forcing Jonathan Quick to come in cold off the bench.
Nicolas Roy also returned to action after missing 14 games and made his presence felt, scoring the game-winning goal 5:19 into the third period.
It was another solid start for Vegas, as Jonathan Marchessault had several looks in front and Zach Whitecloud hit the post. The first line was noticeably aggressive early, a strong response after a stretch of inconsistent play.
That aggressive start led to the first goal of the game.
Marchessault collected Jack Eichel’s outlet pass and gave Vegas a 1-0 lead at 11:43 of the opening frame on a sneaky release that beat Jacob Markstrom far-side.
Jonathan Marchessault breaks the ice with his 23rd goal of the season! @GoldenKnights 1-0! pic.twitter.com/OIhsOI7yTf— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) March 24, 2023
Less than four minutes later, Michael Amadio scored his 12th of the season, setting a new career high while giving Vegas a 2-0 lead nearly 16 minutes into the contest.
Amadio took advantage of another impressive stretch pass, this one from Shea Theodore, and then skated up the middle and put home his own rebound off a kick save by Markstrom.
Amadio goals = 🙂 pic.twitter.com/Uv0IQQyXE0— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 24, 2023
A Calgary power-play goal got called back for a distinct kicking motion, though it gave the Flames some life late in the period.
Calgary seized that momentum and got on the board with less than a minute left in the first as Milan Lucic beat Thompson short-side after getting a step on the trailing Brayden McNabb.
Milan Lucic beats his man to the net and lifts home Duehr's sweet dish to cut Calgary's deficit to 1!#Flames pic.twitter.com/dgQWpSntu6— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 24, 2023
Vegas was excellent through the first 15 minutes, but Calgary’s late push made it a one-goal game after one.
The scoreless second period was relatively uneventful and saw no goals for either side.
But the Golden Knights scored just over five minutes into the third period to restore their two-goal lead; it was none other than Roy who found twine.
Roy forced a turnover along the boards that Chandler Stephenson collected near the blue line. Stephenson fed Phil Kessel in the middle, and Kessel threaded the needle to set up Roy in front for his 12th of the year.
Nicolas Roy lights the lamp. 🚨 pic.twitter.com/tDcwhN7QWO— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 24, 2023
The Flames scored to make it 3-2, but once again, the goal did not count.
This one, however, was quite an unconventional play.
Thompson skated to the bench for an extra attacker, though there was no delayed penalty call. As such, when the Flames skated down the ice, Thompson was forced to scramble back into the shooting lane, but Calgary’s Walker Duehr put the puck in the net.
In the end, however, the goal did not count because the net was dislodged. Presumably, Thompson bet on this when he made the risky decision to skate to the bench.
Walker Duehr's goal doesn't count because the Vegas net is off, what a bizarre sequence!#Flames pic.twitter.com/IuzuEVIRcw— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 24, 2023
The officials confirmed the no-goal call twice, first to explain that the goal didn’t count because the net was dislodged and then, critically, to clarify that a Calgary player had caused the net to come off its moorings.
Once again, the goal seemed to give the Flames a boost, and Calgary’s forecheck forced Vegas to take a penalty at 10:57. The Flames capitalized on the ensuing power play, as Nazem Kadri brought the Flames within one with 7:27 remaining.
Nazem Kadri connects on the power play! ✔️ pic.twitter.com/8xy7C5w3k4— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 24, 2023
Less than 90 seconds later, Thompson headed down the tunnel, forcing Quick to enter the game with 6:07 remaining.
Quick, who gave up six goals when these teams met in Calgary last week, stopped all five shots he faced and came up with two particularly massive saves late in the game with Markstrom on the bench. Alec Martinez helped by making three clutch blocks during Calgary’s most threatening sequence, and the Golden Knights pulled out the win.
Calgary outshot the Golden Knights 44-32, but goaltending and strong team defense helped neutralize the threat.
Thompson was spectacular before exiting the game, stopping 37 of 39 shots for a .949 save percentage and the win, his 21st of the season.
Plus, Vegas blocked a combined 32 shots, one shy of the franchise record.
“I thought we checked as well as we have,” Bruce Cassidy said after the game, adding that he liked that the Golden Knights didn’t give up any odd-man rushes or many grade-A chances. “We had chances to extend the lead... I thought we had the high-end chances, so for me, I thought it was a good Golden Knights ‘keep ‘em to the outside’ ... kind of game.”
Vegas was forced to play most of the third without Smith and the final six minutes without Thompson, but the Golden Knights delivered, winning for just the fourth time ever in Calgary. It marked the club’s 23rd road win of the season, setting a franchise record.
There is concern regarding the injuries to Smith and Thompson, though. Smith took a hit late in the second period, played one shift in the third and then did not return.
Cassidy did not have specific updates for either player but said he does not expect either to be available for Saturday’s game in Edmonton. He said he would know more tomorrow.
Regarding Smith, Cassidy said he thought it was “just a lower-body [injury] that he couldn’t quite play through.”
He was more worried about Thompson.
“Right now, I’m obviously concerned about Logan. He missed a lot of time. ... At the end of the day, let’s hope it’s not related to the previous injury and it’s something that will be short-term, but I don’t know.”
Despite the injuries to two key players, Cassidy said the “next guy up” mentality still applies.
“For us, life goes on. It’s Edmonton next. Paul Cotter was out tonight, [Keegan] Kolesar’s close, [Laurent Brossoit] is practicing. ... The next guy’s gotta be ready to go in, and we’ve kind of dealt with that all year.
Vegas is back in action Saturday in the first half of a home-and-home against the Edmonton Oilers with crucial points up for grabs.