The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2 Tuesday night. It was perhaps the best possible scenario for the Golden Knights heading into the All-Star Break as they collected two points before their six-day break.
“It was huge. We talked about it before the game, it doesn’t matter who we play two points is two points. We’ve been playing pretty good so it was a big two points for us for sure,” said Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner.
From Vegas Hockey Now, here are are eight observations from the Golden Knights win.
1- The Season of Video Tributes Continues
Last season the NHL had interlocked division’s due to the COVID-19 pandemic and travel restrictions. This resulted in a lot of team matchups being cancelled as the only way to face a team not in your division last season was in the playoffs. So a lot of players that headed to different non-Honda West Divison teams did not get to play the Golden Knights.
As a result we have seen many players get their long-overdue tributes to teams in which they used to play on. This season alone Evgenii Dadonov and Chandler Stephenson returned to their former teams for the Golden Knights. And Marc-Andre Fleury, Nate Schmidt, Paul Stastny, Ryan Reaves, Gerard Gallant, are all former members of the Golden Knights that have returned this year. Tuesday night Peyton Krebs, Cody Eakin, and Alex Tuch all added to the list.
2- The Misfit Line Set the Tone
33 seconds was all it took for the Golden Knights to score on the Sabres. The Misfit Line of Reilly Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson started the scoring for the Golden Knights with a strong rush chance which Smith scored on. The Misfit Line set the tone for the Golden Knights and without their strong pressure out of the gate, it could have been a completely different game Tuesday night against the Sabres.
3- Reilly Smith Finally Scores
With the first goal of the game, Smith scored only his second goal in the last 21 games and first goal in 11 games. The play from Smith has been solid as of late but the scoring has not been there as a result. Smith, after being second on the team in scoring for essentially the first half of the season has now dropped to fourth on the team with 30 points in 44 games. Hopefully for the Golden Knights Smith’s goal Tuesday night gets him on a scoring streak.
“Typical Reilly Smith goal it was a center lane drive he stopped at the net and good things happened so. He deserved one, he could have had two the other night in Tampa. I think he has always been a streaky guy so hopefully this starts another streak,” said Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer.
4- Goals in Three Straight Games for Brett Howden
One player who has been on a scoring streak as of late is Brett Howden. After being a healthy scratch against the Florida Panthers, Howden has three goals in his last three games. He has 16 points overall this season and is on pace to smash his career-high in points of 23 which came in his rookie season with the New York Rangers. Stay tuned with Vegas Hockey Now on more analysis of Howden, as we will likely be discussing the forward over the Golden Knights All-Star Break.
“He is playing with more confidence, his head is up as soon as he gets his first touch on the puck and he is driving the net hard. Sometimes it goes through ways where you are finding the puck in good areas and that is happening for him” said Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith on Howden’s play.
5- The Golden Knights Played to Their Strengths
If you turned off Tuesday night’s game after the first or second period I don’t blame you. The Golden Knights took it to them and pummeled the Sabres in just about every way they could. They did it in Golden Knights fashion with a strong neutral zone pressure with the 1-1-3, excellent scoring chances off the rush, and great stretch passes to set up offensive chances.
“I think our gameplan was to use our rush and out speed to put them on their heels and I feel like Buffalo played a pretty wide open game so they enabled us to get a lot of odd-man rushes,” said Smith.
6- Perfect Game to Coast into the All-Star Break
Overall a game against the Sabres was just what the doctor ordered for the Golden Knights. They now enter a six-day break from game action with a two-game winning streak. With the Anahiem Ducks having also played their last game before the All-Star break the Golden Knights officially are the NHL’s top team in the Pacific Division at what can be considered the halfway point of the season.