The Vegas Golden Knights (33-26-4, 70 points) finally got back into the win column Thursday night against the Florida Panthers (41-14-6, 88 points). Logan Thompson stopped 33 shots, Evgenii Dadonov scored two goals, and Jack Eichel left the game with an upper-body injury.
With the Dallas Stars defeating the Montreal Canadiens in overtime just moments before this game started, the Golden Knights found themselves out of a playoff position. They are now back in.
Brett Howden, Daniil Miromanov, and Mattias Janmark returned to the Golden Knights lineup after missing games due to injury. Also, defenseman Derrick Pouliot was called up from the Henderson Silver Knights and signed to an NHL contract just hours before puck drop.
With Brayden McNabb, Alec Martinez, Ben Hutton, and Nicolas Hague all out, Pouliot slotted into the lineup and Dylan Coghlan was paired with Alex Pietrangelo. Thompson got the start against the NHL’s highest-scoring offense, a tough challenge for the rookie but he got the win.
Oh, and in case you missed it, Robin Lehner denied reports regarding his current injury once more.
This was the first game back home for the Golden Knights after their disastrous 0-5 road trip. They returned with Thursday being St. Patrick’s Day, and the team celebrates with special warmup jerseys.
The speed of the Panthers was evident all night. Carter Verhaeghe looked like he was using cheat codes and simply skated past the Golden Knights defense for the Panthers’ first goal of the night. Verhaeghe slipped behind Pietrangelo and Coghlan, received a pass, and then scored on his own rebound.
This is the sixth straight game the Golden Knights have given up the first goal.
Later in the period he again would outskate the Pietrangelo/Coghlan pairing as he managed to generate a rush chance where he crashed into the net. Verhaeghe and Thompson were shaken up after the collision but they both remained in the game. Shaken-up players would be a theme all night.
The Golden Knights were in danger of once again digging themselves a hole despite having some good offensive chances to start. The first line of Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson did some damage but it was the fourth line that scored first for the VGK.
After Keegan Kolesar and Michael Amadio won a puck battle on the boards, Amadio and Brett Howden took off on a two-on-one. Howden patiently waited and found a seam through Spencer Knight and scored his 9th goal of the season in his first game back.
Howden now has ten points in his last fourteen games.
need more of these celly vibes 🤩 pic.twitter.com/aKtKloU09n
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 18, 2022
Zach Whitecloud then hit Mason Marchment into the Golden Knights bench which stirred up some extracurriculars. The Golden Knights entered the second period with momentum on their side.
Evgenii Dadonov scored against his former team to make it 2-1 Golden Knights. He made a slick play to cut back and around Gustav Forsling before he roofed a shot over Knight. Pouliot collected his first point as a Golden Knight assisting on Dadonov’s goal.
✨ PUUUUUUREEEE GOLD ✨ pic.twitter.com/dqFZs2J8J9
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 18, 2022
The Golden Knights did a great job at controlling the game in the second. It was an entertaining game, to say the least. Both goaltenders were playing exceptionally well. Thompson made a huge save on Sam Reinhart after a horrendous turnover from Shea Theodore.
A Mackenzie Weegar penalty allowed the Golden Knights powerplay to get on the ice and they took advantage. Right off the opening faceoff on the powerplay Theodore wristed a shot that was deflected by Dadonov for his second goal of the game and second against his former team in the Panthers.
Don’t look know but Dadonov had four goals in his last six games.
It was an overall strong period for the Golden Knights in the second but the Panthers were able to cut the lead to one late in the frame. After a scramble in from of Thompson, Sam Bennett collected the loose change and scored his 25th goal of the season.
On top of this Jack Eichel also went missing after he blocked a shot from Mackenzie Weegar with his hand. He went to the locker room, came back, but then stayed in the room to start the third period. Eichel did not return. Patric Hornqvist, on a separate injury also left the game for the Florida Panthers.
— Owen Krepps (@OKrepps85) March 18, 2022
With Eichel out, Dadonov was bumped up to the first line alongside Marchessault. Karlsson retuend to center. Daniil Miromanov also was absent, having last played in the early stages of the second period.
The Panthers got their first powerplay chance of the game with Karlsson tripping up Jonathan Huberdeau. Aaron Ekblad sent a hard slapshot towards the net and it found its way through to tie things. Sam Reinhart was in front but didn’t touch it.
Something the Golden Knights have not had lately has been luck. But on St. Patrick’s Day, in the third period in a tie game, they finally got some. Bennett, who scored earlier in the game blew a tire which allowed Nic Roy to pick up the puck and head in on Knight on a breakaway.
I’ll let you watch the highlight to see what happened next.
— NHL (@NHL) March 18, 2022
The Golden Knights scored just 57 seconds after Ekblad’s tying goal and then got another powerplay chance as Anthony Duclair took an unsportsmanlike penalty and a ten-minute minor. The VGK were unable to score but had some scramble chances from the first line that barely stayed out somehow.
Knight was pulled with 2:04 remaining in the game and Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette took his timeout. But Karlsson iced things with an empty-net goal that sent a huge sigh of relief to everyone at T-Mobile Arena.
The Golden Knights won the game 5-3. It was a gutsy win and exactly what this team needed coming off their recent struggles. While they may have lost Eichel, this is about as perfect of a game you could ask for if you are Peter DeBoer.
See you Saturday for a matinee game against the LA Kings, and be sure to check on Twitter tonight for a VHN/Florida Hockey Now crossover episode via Spaces.
VHN’s Player of the Game: Evgenii Dadonov
The scoring ways of Evgenii Dadonov have significantly changed over the past six games. In this span “daddy” (I’m sorry that’s really his nickname) has four goals.