The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 to remain perfect for the 2023-24 season. Jack Eichel’s game-winning goal helped validate Logan Thompson’s strong performance.
Alec Martinez (injury) made his season debut Thursday night and had a goal.
The game within the game: Flashback to the 2017-18 season. The Golden Knights had a relentless forecheck under former coach Gerard Gallant. The con is allowing the opposition odd-man rushes if the forecheck is unable to disrupt the other team’s offense on the breakout. On Thursday, the Golden Knights applied pressure on the breakouts of the Jets and it directly led to a Brett Howden goal. The Jets were unable to take advantage of the pressure applied by the Golden Knights to get many odd-man rushes. Another example of Coach Bruce Cassidy’s excellent in-game adjustments paying off.
First period: Martinez had his stick break at center ice. Alex Afflalo converted on a rebound attempt early in the period as Martinez tried to regain position after Ivan Barbashev handed his stick to him. Jonathan Marchessault scored the game’s second goal on the power play from the high slot. Mark Stone screened Laurent Brossoit just long enough for Brossoit to lose track of the puck.
Thompson made his claim for a save of the year nominee. Cole Perfetti appeared to have an open net after a rebound. Thompson sold out and threw his body from post to post. The puck deflected off the blade of Thompson’s stick. “Holy crap, I thought he was going to put it in.” Thompson on the stick save. “I thought he (Perfetti) was going to put it in. I was just trying to get anything over there. Thankfully he hit my stick and it stayed out of the net.”
The Golden Knights found their game as the period progressed.
Second period: Remember earlier in the article when the aggressive forecheck was mentioned? Brett Howden applied pressure at the blue line which led to a turnover. Howden raced straight to the net and Mark Stone set Howden up for an easy tip-in. Martinez found the scoresheet on his first game back from injury. Paul Cotter forced a turnover and sent the puck behind the net to William Karlsson. Karlsson found Martinez in the slot and sniped one by Brossoit.
A rare error by Stone led to a Jets goal. Stone made an errant behind-the-back pass at the offensive blue line that was intercepted. Stone fell down trying to get back. Perfetti converted a perfectly executed three-on-two to give the Jets life heading to the third period.
Turning point: The Jets looked like a different team to start the third period. The Golden Knights failed to log a shot on goal after the Jets completed eight shots on goal to start the third period.
Third period: The Golden Knights surrendered their first goal on the penalty kill of the 2023-24 season. Iafallo converted on the power play after some nice puck movement from the Jets to tie the game. The Golden Knights had a power play after the game’s final television timeout. Mason Appleton dived in an attempt to clear the puck. Shea Theodore kept the puck in the zone and found Stone inside the blue line. Stone sent the puck to Eichel on the far circle and was able to pick the upper corner for the game-winning goal. Nic Roy scored an empty-net goal to ice this one.
Key storyline: The Golden Knights were good tonight. At times they were great and at other times not so great. But the team found a way to win. The Golden Knights stole a game Tuesday against the Dallas Stars and backed it up with two tough points to earn on the road. “It’s ok for the group not to be perfect every night, as long as you get better from it.” Coach Cassidy on the team’s performance overall.
Adin Hill and Thompson have looked great early on. If the Golden Knights goaltending duo can stay healthy for most of the season, there could be a share of the Jennings trophy in their future.
“He did his job, you have to give him a lot of credit.” Coach Cassidy on Thompson’s performance.
The Golden Knights continue their road trip Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks.