The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-3 at the United Center in Chicago on Saturday night. Connor Bedard got a power-play goal 90 seconds in to ignite the Mad House on Madison. The Blackhawks’ lead was short-lived.
Saturday’s win gave the Golden Knights the NHL record for the best start by a defending Stanley Cup champion.
Adin Hill on the victory, “We came in with the mentality of trying to repeat what we did last year.”
The game within the game: The Blackhawks had so much going against them. They just got off a five-game road trip that took them all around North America to start the season. Media has been relentless in their pursuit of getting soundbites from Bedard. The first game back from a road trip is always challenging. Plus the Blackhawks had to deal with their red carpet arrivals for opening night.
Simply put, the Blackhawks are gassed just six games into the new season.
First period: Bedard got the Blackhawks on the board just 90 seconds in. The Golden Knights got caught with three players below the goal line on a penalty kill and Bedard sniped one by Adin Hill. William Karlsson got the Golden Knights on the board by backhanding a rebound past Arvid Soderblom on the power play.
Beyond the early goals, the first period was pretty flat for both teams.
Second period: Jonathan Marchessault was given a lot of space on an entry and beat Soderblom low to give the Golden Knights a two-goal lead. Reese Johnson tied the game up for the Blackhawks with a nice deflection near the top of the faceoff circle. The deflection froze Hill and there was nothing he could do to keep the puck out.
Turning point: Tonight’s turning point did not even happen on the ice or during the course of play. Marchessault was the second intermission guest of Golden Knights rink side reporter Ashley Vice. Vice asked Marchessault what the Golden Knights needed to do in the third period. “We know we are better than those guys,” Marchessault stated. “There’s not much that needs to be said, we know what we need to do.”
This game was over before the third period even started.
Third period: The Golden Knights scored just 13 seconds into the third period. Nic Roy tapped in a nice pass from Keegan Kolesar on a two-on-one. That would give the Golden Knights the lead for good. “If you want to call them a fourth line, that’s the best fourth line in the league.” Hill on the fourth line.
Mark Stone and Paul Cotter (power play) added goals for the Golden Knights. Corey Perry scored for the Blackhawks with 15 seconds remaining for a 5-3 final in favor of the Golden Knights.
“We just wanted to play a better third. We knew we weren’t at our best for the first two periods.” Coach Bruce Cassidy on the third period.
Key storyline: Perfection. What more is there to say? Not only are the Golden Knights undefeated. The Henderson Silver Knights are off to a 4-0 start after completing a third-period comeback against the San Jose Barracuda Saturday afternoon in Henderson.
Professional hockey in the Vegas Valley is 10-0-0 and earned 20 of a possible 20 points.
Concern: Ivan Barbashev found himself off the top line for the second time in the first six games. Coach Bruce Cassidy benched Barbashev for the final six minutes plus in the second period. Barbashev had 13:34 time on ice which ranked him ninth of the 12 forwards. Cassidy limited Barbashev to just five shifts in the second and third periods. Vegas Hockey Now’s Chris Gawlik wrote about Barbashev’s struggles on Friday and this just adds fuel to the fire.
Alex Pietrangelo update: Coach Cassidy mentioned that Pietrangelo skated the last two days and hopes to skate with the team Monday.
Next up: The Philadelphia Flyers come to Vegas Tuesday night looking to spoil the Golden Knights’ perfect start.