Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer has talked about how, sometimes, you need ugly wins to measure the mark of your team.
That stands true in a 1-0 game. William Karlsson scored with 42.7 seconds left to give Vegas a victory against the Arizona Coyotes, its fifth in six games to start the season.
Let’s hand out some grades for this weird game.
After scoring nine goals through two games at T-Mobile Arena, the Golden Knights ran into a settled Darcy Kuemper in his home barn. Vegas had 18 shots through two periods, but credit the Coyotes for keeping the bulk of those attempts to the outside.
While understanding the clamoring for Cody Glass to be a mainstay in the lineup, the Golden Knights might have something with this third line of Alex Tuch, Nicolas Roy and Keegan Kolesar. The trio combined for 11 shots and only allowed two. Kolesar doesn’t move the needle from a name factor, but when he’s been on that line, 55 has stood out.
Vegas got going in the third period and peppered Kuemper up close. The Knights had a couple of chances in the third from the Roy line — one in particular where Roy’s deflection from Nicolas Hague went wide of the net at 5:25 of the third — but finally cashed in on Karlsson’s winning goal.
Even if it might’ve, could’ve, possibly been icing, but that’s another discussion for another day.
It was a night-and-day effort from the Golden Knights defensively after allowing five goals on Friday.
The first period alone was worthy of a gold star, allowing four shots on goal while blocking four.
That’s one of the signs of how well the Golden Knights have adjusted. Think back to the season opener against Anaheim; they allowed the two first-period goals and held the Ducks scoreless the rest of the way.
Giving up those two goals by Max Comtois kickstarted a 220-minute stretch of only five goals allowed. The adjustments DeBoer and his staff have made on the fly in a short amount of time is to be commended.
All three pairs played well, but notably the third of Zach Whitecloud (15:18 TOI) and Hague (15:09). The two young blueliners not only played well in their own zone, but got into the rush aplenty and made some plays. Those two turning in a complete 200-foot effort on a nightly basis will round out this defense core more than we initially thought.
Not going to slight Marc-Andre Fleury for only seeing 16 shots. He came up big when needed, and has been stellar (3-0-0, 1.00 GAA, .951 save percentage).
It was the 62nd shutout of Fleury’s career. His 469th win puts him 15 behind Ed Belfour for fourth place all-time, and he’s going to make a serious charge for that should he continue this pace.
Fleury didn’t see a lot of dangerous chances until the second half of the game. Then came his former buddy Phil Kessel walking in on him at 3:06 of the third.
It’s a small sample size and the quality of competition hasn’t given us a clear indication yet, but committing $12 million to a goaltending duo has proven to be a worthwhile investment for the Golden Knights in their 5-1-0 start.
SPECIAL TEAMS: B-
The penalty kill continues to be the Golden Knights’ biggest strength, allowing one shot on two Arizona power plays. For that alone, this would be a high mark. Vegas now has the ninth best PK unit in the league (85 percent). The power play, however, continues to be an anomaly. Yes, Arizona’s PK is always top notch. To be 2-for-20 on the season, however, is a headscratcher.
Fortunately the Golden Knights will face a horrid St. Louis Blues PK unit on Tuesday, the fifth worst team in the league shorthanded (65.4 percent). If that doesn’t produce some power-play goals, there might need to be a come-to-Jesus meeting.
Nevertheless, the Golden Knights got the job done and took three of four against the Coyotes. These teams will not meet again until April 9. May we all be blessed for that.
Danny Webster is the newest columnist and reporter for Vegas Hockey Now. He is the Golden Knights beat writer for NHL dot com and remains a contributor to The Hockey News. Catch him on Twitter @DannyWebster21