Well I’m tickled pink!
The Vegas Golden Knights were down 3-2 on the scoreboard, with mere seconds to play, when Max Pacioretty played hero, scoring the goal that sent this game into overtime. This game was all over the place and was fitting of a dramatic ending, in true Vegas fashion.
Prior to the game, forward Mark Stone spoke about how the Golden Knights needed better starts and boy did they listen. Following their loss to the Dallas Stars on Monday evening, Stone said they needed to “start on time.”
He led by example, scoring the first goal for the Golden Knights, on their way to a 2-0 start. Pacioretty’s relentless forecheck deep in the Predators’ zone and a soccer kick of a pass got Stone an open look on the opposite end and the team’s leading scorer did not miss. He beat Juuse Saros to the glove side, giving Vegas the opening lead they desired.
Throughout the opening period, the Golden Knights pushed the Predators, but their vaunted defense corps was up to the task, blocking shots and clogging passing lanes with ease.
As the aggressors, Vegas was able to establish positive momentum and carried it over to start the second period. With Stone now one goal ahead of him, Reilly Smith evened it back up with his 11th of the season, at 6:22 of the second period. Defenseman Nate Schmidt hit Smith with one of the best stretch passes up the middle that you’ll ever see and the Assistant Captain beat Saros with a tricky backhander, just under the glove.
From there, it was all Nashville until the waning moments of the third period. The Predators would score two goals before the second period could end, the first of which coming a brief :39 after the Smith tally. Mikael Granlund and Ryan Ellis’ goals in 4:24 evened the score and swung the momentum wildly back into the home team’s favor.
High-profile free agent acquisition Matt Duchene buried a one-time attempt from the right faceoff circle, giving the Preds a one-goal lead that would stand until the 19:59 mark of the third period.
Yes, the 19:59 mark.
Pacioretty’s buzzer beater goal, his ninth of the season, with 0.3 seconds remaining on the clock, stunned the Predators. Dan Hamhuis took a loose puck behind the Predators net and instead of icing it with :06 remaining, decided to try to pin the puck along the boards.
He’d eventually lose the puck and it ended up in the net, just two Stone and Smith backhand passes later. It was an insane tic-tac-toe passing play that the Golden Knights have been seldom pulling off lately.
With a tie game and momentum back on their side, the Golden Knights prepared for the dreaded 3-on-3 overtime that Jon Merrill admittedly said the team needs more work on.
For one night, they mastered it. Another huge mistake by the Predators, specifically Calle Jarnkrok and Ryan Johansen, sprung Nate Schmidt and Paul Stastny on a 2-on-0 break toward Saros. Schmidt hit Stastny perfectly and the savvy vet buried the prime opportunity, giving the Vegas Golden Knights their first win in four games.
On top of the team win, goaltender Malcolm Subban received his first individual victory of the season, improving to a record of 1-4-2. Subban received his second straight start in Marc-Andre Fleury’s absence as the starter was attending to a family illness back in the motherland (Quebec). Although the typical defensive woes reared their ugly head at times, the team pulled together for one of their better efforts in front of their 26-year-old backup.
The Golden Knights now head back home, for a Golden Friday game against the Arizona Coyotes, who are about as dangerous as they come. They’re young, fast, hungry, and extremely dangerous in all situations.
Tonight’s big 4-3 overtime win calls for celebration, but it will be right back down to business for your boys in gold. Get your fill of Thanksgiving turkey and gear up for a great Pacific Division battle, with a few extra pounds!