With William Karlsson back in the lineup and against one of the best teams in the league nonetheless, the Vegas Golden Knights (14-10) defeated the Calgary Flames (15-5-5) on Sunday night 3-2. The Golden Knights played a stellar sixty-minute game with everyone contributing. Max Pacioretty, Nicolas Roy, and Evgenii Dadonov had the goals for the VGK and Robin Lehner stopped 24 of 26.
Outside of the arena, the Golden Knights held a toy drive in preparation for Christmas. Fans brought unwrapped and unopened gifts as a part of the Golden Knight’s 21 Days of Giving. All toys were donated to The CASA Foundation.
Having Karlsson back in the lineup allowed the Golden Knights forwards to play in the roles that they were meant to play. Guys like Roy, and William Carrier impressed in the bottom-six. The misfit line of Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, and Reilly Smith quickly regained their magic as well.
Peter DeBoer was able to roll all four of his lines as they were intended to be played. As a result, the Golden Knights played a strong first period. They had a tough time in getting past one of the top goaltenders in the league in Jakob Markstrom though. He stopped 25 of 28 shots in the loss.
But with his sixth goal in seven games since his return to the lineup, Pacioretty scored the first goal of the game for the Golden Knights. This came off of a quick transition play by Mark Stone which sprung Chandler Stephenson and Pacioretty on a two-on-one. Stephenson fed Pacioretty and he buried it for a big first goal late in the first period.
The Golden Knights were the far better team for the majority of the game. The forecheck, transition game, and ability to have all four lines be effective were the keys to success for the Golden Knights. Scoring chances were 13-9 halfway through the game.
Special teams were strong for the Golden Knights as well. Dylan Coghlan took a penalty late in the second period. But the Golden Knight’s PK unit was able to kill off a dangerous Flames powerplay and keep it 1-0.
Similar to Pacioretty, Nicolas Roy was able to stay hot in scoring early in the third period. Shea Theodore jumped up on the play and fed Roy who made no mistake with his shot placement sniping a shot past Markstrom to make it 2-0. Roy now has two goals and an assist in his past two games fresh out of his scoring slump.
The Flames were able to get past Lehner but it took a tipped puck to do so. Elias Lindholm tipped home a shot from Rasmus Andersson and cut the Golden Knights lead to one. Despite an all-around great performance from the team, the Golden Knights found themselves only up by one.
The Golden Knights were able to answer quickly though as they once again were able to score off the rush. The third line off Roy, Dadonov, and Mattias Janmark all got touches on the puck and Dadonov buried home a goal to make it 3-1.
Later on, a scrum behind the Flames net resulted in some extracurriculars. Pacioretty and Noah Hanafin battled, Andersson and Stone wrestled, and Matthew Tkachuk and Nicolas Hauge quarreled. Tkachuk and Hague were sent to the box with Tkachuk getting a double-minor for roughing.
This game also saw two unique saves. One came from an overjoyed fan who caught a puck, and the other came from Coghlan. After blowing a tire at center ice Andersson was in alone on a breakaway. He beat Lehner but the puck sat exactly on the goal line and never crossed. This gave Coghlan enough time to recover and swat it out of harm’s way.
With the empty net, the Flames got their Andrew Mangiapane goal of the night. The 25-year old forward has seventeen goals on the season and sixteen of them have come on the road. However, time ran out for the Flames and the Golden Knights were able to hold on and win 3-2.
This is a massive win for the Vegas Golden Knights as they take down the division-leading Flames. It was a strong game for everyone with a playoff-like atmosphere. Having William Karlsson back in the lineup opens up so many possibilities for the Golden Knights. Things will only continue to get better with Jack Eichel, Alec Martinez, and Nolan Patrick coming back as well.
The Golden Knights will have two days off before they take on the Dallas Stars Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena for a 7:00 pm puck drop.