Reilly Smith scored twice and the Vegas Golden Knights had to hang on through an Arizona Coyotes rally to end up with a 7-4 win.
Vegas scored four goals in the first period in just over 13 minutes to open up a big lead. Reilly Smith scored twice to lead the offense, and Chandler Stephenson, Will Carrier, Keegan Kolesar, Jonathan Marchessault and Max Pacioretty (empty net) posted singles in the win.
Robin Lehner earned the win with 22 saves. Arizona Coyotes starter Adin Hill lasted two periods and gave up five goals on 32 shots against. Ivan Prosvetov stopped four of five shots in relief.
Goaltendeing – B-
Robin Lehner didn’t always have a lot going on and it can be tough to stay sharp in those situations. He did make some pretty good saves through the game, but four goals on 26 shots isn’t a great night out either. It didn’t help that the D went to sleep on him for half the game.
Defense – C
The defense was ok. They didn’t have one of those games that make you really sit up and take notice. Instead, they fell asleep on Lehner and allowed the Coyotes right back in the game which is frustrating. At least they were able to nail things down at the end.
Forwards – B+
Good to see the dam burst when it comes to goals from the forwards. Early on, some serious hard work led to opportunities and goals. The problem is that the team as a whole took its foot off the gas and allowed Arizona back into things. A fantastic game for Reilly Smith who scored twice, and Chandler Stephenson getting one coming off his suspension was good to see as well.
- I’m worried. I’ll just go ahead and start with this one. This team has shown a complete inability to play 60 minutes all season long and it’s going to bite them in the ass sooner or later. No one seems too worried about it, perhaps there’s still the belief and the confidence in how good they are overall, but they look stale and flat for between 10 to 30 minutes a game. It’s incredibly frustrating when you compare the first 13 minutes of this game to the third period when the VGK managed five shots on net and were just trying to go into a defensive shell and play prevent. That never works.
- Reilly Smith needs to score more and tonight was a good game for him. Getting a pair definitely makes you feel more confident and Smith, along with the rest of the second line, is going to be a massive key for the Vegas Golden Knights playoff success. Good teams can shut down a top line. Secondary scoring is where it’s at.
- A power play goal! Good movement off the puck opened up lanes and Jonathan Marchessault cashed in. Of course, it’s tough to generate any momentum on the PP when you only get two in a game, but great to see them cash in on that one.
- This ties into the first point, but the inability to put teams away is troubling. Playing all 60 minutes will help, but this team also doesn’t seem to have that killer instinct to lock it down and just step on the throat of the opposition when they’re one goal away from calling it quits. Arizona isn’t a top-level opponent. You simply can’t play like this in the playoffs and hope to beat Colorado, Minnesota, or whoever else you might come up against. Everyone finds a way to gloss over things when you win with a big number on the board, but there are concerns here for me. I wonder if GMKM feels the same way heading into the trade deadline and will make a move or two.