Golden Knights win fifth straight with thrilling 5-4 victory against Lightning

Vegas was dominant defensively in the third period, allowing just five shots.

The Vegas Golden Knights extended their winning streak to five games and completed the sweep of their three-game homestand with a 5-4 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Vegas remains undefeated since returning from the All-Star break and holds a one-point lead (with a game in hand) over Los Angeles at the top of the Pacific Division standings.

The Golden Knights shut things down with a critical defensive effort in the third period against a very talented Lightning squad to secure the two points in Vegas’ most impressive performance during the winning streak.

It was a wild game from start to finish, especially with a first period that featured six goals.

The clubs exchanged four goals in the span of 2:07, with Vegas erasing both of Tampa Bay’s early leads in the first period.

Vladislav Namestnikov opened the scoring at 6:10 on a deflection in front.

But Brett Howden went hard to the net and was rewarded with his third goal of the year just seven seconds later. It was his third point in the last four games after recording three in his first 25.

A vintage Steven Stamkos one-timer on the power play put the Lightning ahead for a second time 40 seconds after that, giving the Lightning a 2-1 lead at 6:57 of the opening frame.

But once again, the Golden Knights responded.

In fact, exactly two minutes after Howden lit the lamp, Jonathan Marchessault scored his first of two first-period goals to reset the score at 2-2.

It was a nice play all-around, with Shea Theodore winning a race to retrieve the puck and keep the play alive. He and Paul Cotter assisted on Marchessault’s 16th of the year and first since Jan. 7.

The first four goals of the game came on a combined seven shots.

The Golden Knights followed up Marchessault’s equalizer with an additional two goals to give Vegas a 4-2 lead after 20 minutes.

Michael Amadio made a pair of excellent plays and teamed up with Reilly Smith and William Karlsson to set up a Theodore goal that barely got past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Theodore’s sixth of the year gave Vegas its first lead of the night and was the Golden Knights’ third goal on just five shots.

Marchessault scored his second of the period at 17:46.

The goal underwent a lengthy review after Tampa Bay challenged for a missed game stoppage. However, it was ruled that Marchessault did not touch the puck with a high stick.

The official ruling stated, “The Situation Room supported the Referee’s call on the ice that Jonathan Marchessault’s stick was not above the normal height of his shoulders when he contacted the puck with 2:16 on the clock of the first period (17:44 elapsed time) — two seconds before his goal. The decision was made in accordance with Rule 80.1.”

Theodore finished the frame with three points, giving him three goals and 12 points in nine games between these two clubs.

The second period began with an all-out assault by Tampa Bay, with many extended shifts in Vegas’ end and a ton of sustained pressure. It led to the lone goal of the frame, as Corey Perry made it 4-3 just 4:29 in, cashing in off a feed from Victor Hedman to pull Tampa Bay within one.

Vegas eventually regained its composure later in the period and began to slow down the Lightning, though that effort was executed to near perfection in the third period.

The Golden Knights played a virtually flawless final 20 minutes, shutting down an explosive Tampa Bay offense to not only hold on for the win but also demonstrate what this team could be capable of.

Nicolas Roy scored an empty-net goal with 1:09 remaining to make it 5-3, and while former Golden Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare made things interesting with a goal in the waning seconds of regulation, the Golden Knights came away victorious for their fifth straight win and 34th of the year.

It was a thrilling game and a promising display by a Vegas team that’s really starting to put things together. After dropping four straight prior to the All-Star break, Vegas has played exceptionally well, finding ways to win and demonstrating some much-needed consistency.

Adin Hill surrendered four goals on 24 shots for an .833 save percentage, but he came up with a few key saves and did enough to help his team keep the momentum going. He has won three straight starts since Logan Thompson got injured.

Marchessault had a breakout game after going more than a month without lighting the lamp; he and Cotter showed excellent chemistry, and Amadio and Howden had noticeable performances as well.

But it was Vegas’ team-wide defensive play in the third period that stood out most of all.

The Golden Knights gave up just five shots in the entire frame, one of which was Bellemare’s goal with 11 seconds remaining. The first two shots came in the first 1:09, but Vegas held the Lightning without a single shot on goal for the next 14-plus minutes, which included two Tampa Bay power plays.

The Golden Knights took care of things offensively in the first period and were dominant defensively in the third, relying on their defensive structure to come away with a huge win.

The Golden Knights are set to hit the road for a Tuesday tilt against Chicago but will have three difficult matchups to close out the month against Calgary, Dallas and Colorado. Though tonight’s game was a big test for the Golden Knights, those games could go a long way towards determining what Vegas does at the trade deadline.