After meeting fifteen times last season the Vegas Golden Knights (8-6) and Minnesota Wild (9-4) played for the first time in the 2021-22 NHL season. Both Paul Cotter and Jonas Rondbjerg scored their first NHL goals for the Golden Knights leading the team to a 3-2 victory.
With Thursday being Veteran’s Day, it was Military Appreciation Night across the NHL. The Golden Knights wore special military-themed jerseys in warmups and they were auctioned off during the game. Outside of T-Mobile Arena, Jack Daniels also had a “seven-tier barrel tree” to promote their Operation Ride Home Program.
In terms of lineup changes, Laurent Brossoit got the rare start over Robin Lehner for the Golden Knights. William Carrier was absent from the game as he is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
“It wouldn’t be us if we didn’t have another guy down,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.
The Golden Knights had perhaps their best period of the season in the first against the Wild. The offensive pressure was there and it was spearheaded by some smart defensive plays. The forecheck led by guys like Nicolas Roy and Chandler Stephenson caused some turnovers and the Golden Knights looked great in the opening frame.
Playing in his second career NHL game, Paul Cotter accepted a stretch pass from Nicolas Hague, danced around Dmitry Kulikov, fired a shot on Cam Talbot, and scored his first NHL goal. Later on, in the first period, the same fourth-line scored another goal as Jonas Rondjerg scored from the same angle as Cotter for his first career NHL goal as well.
With two first career NHL goals and also the return of Jon Merril to Las Vegas, Golden Knights fans had a lot to cheer about in the first period.
After one period the Golden Knights were outshooting the Wild 16-5 and limited the Wild to only one high-danger chance.
But it was not all rainbows and daisies for the Golden Knights in the first period though as defenseman Alec Martinez left the game. Martinez took Brandon Duhaime’s skate to the face on the boards, left the game, and did not return.
More of the same followed in the second period, but the Wild began to push back who looked for their eighth comeback victory on the season. Brossoit stood strong and finished the game with 22 saves on 24 shots. The Golden Knights found themselves in some penalty trouble with three unfortunate and strange penalties.
After Shea Theodore took a minor penalty, the Golden Knights then took two consecutive delay of game penalties from Hague and Alex Pietrangelo. But Brossoit and the Golden Knights penalty-killing unit came up big and killed off the multiple five-on-three penalties.
Late in the period, the Golden Knights added to their lead as Reilly Smith forced Matt Dumba to turnover the puck. Smith found Jonathan Marchessault who extended his point-streak and scored with seven seconds left in the second period.
Holding onto the 3-1 was a bit of a problem for the Golden Knights however as just moments into the third period Kirill Kaprizov found Jared Spurgeon pinching who scored. Despite the Golden Knights outshooting the Wild, only a few shots later Ryan Hartman scored for the Wild to make it a one-goal game.
The Golden Knight had to hold their breath late in the game as the Wild pulled Talbot with just under three minutes left in the game and Marchessault took a late penalty. But the Golden Knights penalty kill finished the night going a perfect six-for-six on the night and the Golden Knights escaped with the victory.
This is the first time all season the Golden Knights have been two games over .500. The team is set to play the Vancouver Canucks Saturday night at 7:00 pm at home.