Could there be some light emerging from the Vegas Golden Knights’ dark start?
Despite squandering a 4-1 third-period lead Friday, the Knights managed to prevail in the shootout for a 5-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Nevada Day at T-Mobile Arena as the Knights won their third straight to improve to 4-4 overall after their 1-4 start that included four consecutive defeats, three of which came on home ice.
Evgenii Dadonov scored the game-winner in the fourth round of the shootout after Nicolas Roy kept the Knights alive. It was the first shootout goal in Dadonov’s NHL career.
Robin Lehner, who detests shootouts and usually struggles, stopped three straight Anaheim attempts after Trevor Zegras gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead in the first round.
Vegas got goals from its top two lines (Reilly Smith, Chandler Stephenson and William Carrier) as well as the defense (Nic Hague) and Lehner stopped 34 shots in improving to 3-4.
“What a game,” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said. “It was like five games in one.
“I loved the start. It was a crime we weren’t up more than one in the first.”
At the 11-minute mark, Vegas had a 16-1 edge in shots on goal. But after 20 minutes, it was still 1-0.
“You can’t let a team come back from 4-1,” said Jonathan Marchessault, who picked up his first two assists of the season and stopped a 2-on-1 during overtime to help Vegas get to the shootout. “It’s disappointing, but we’ll take the win.”
Three takeaways from Friday:
1. Smart leads to success
The Golden Knights played smart hockey in the Anaheim zone and were rewarded for it. They were supporting each other on the puck when they had possession and made good decisions.
Indicative was Hague’s goal, a big-time blast from the point. It was the result of a strong high cycle run in the Anaheim zone by William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault after Alex Pietrangelo made a good hustle play to keep the puck in the Anaheim end. With the Ducks chasing instead of staying home, it eventually created room for Hague to let one rip past John Gibson, who always seems to be under siege when he plays the Golden Knights. Gibson faced 42 shots Friday.
2. Defensive breakdowns hurt
The Ducks got better as the game went on and even though they were down 4-1 in the third, they showed some pluck and kept working. They would eventually pull even 4-4 on three goals in a 5:11 span from Troy Terry, Isac Lundestrom and Adam Henrique which helped get them to OT.
The Knights, who had been good in their own end in the first period, got sloppy and it cost them as Lehner was unable to stop the close-in opportunities. He stopped 34 of the 38 shots he faced.
“We needed two points,” Lehner said of his shootout heroics, “I’ve been working on it, trying to build my confidence.”
Marchessault said: “We stooped playing the right way and we let them back in it. They had good puck luck and we put them in that position.”
3. No injuries
For the first time this season, all 20 Golden Knights players who dressed finished the game. But there were a couple of scary moments.
Alec Martinez took a puck to the face in the first period but he didn’t miss a shift. Marchessault barreled into Lehner after trying to chop down Murray on a breakaway in the second period. But both Marchessault and Lehner were O.K.
Next up: Tuesday at Toronto Maple Leafs, 4 p.m.