The identity of the Vegas Golden Knights was on full display in the first period of Thursday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes. The Golden Knights were able to get three, first-period goals as a result of winning puck battles and/or creating opportunities off the rush.
Nic Roy outworked J.J. Moser in the neutral zone which sprung a rush that allowed Jonathan Marchessault to score just 19 seconds into the game. William Karlsson and Brendan Brisson won their puck battles and the puck ended up on Nic Hague’s stick. Hague’s wrist shot deflected off a Coyotes player and goaltender Connor Ingram lost track of the puck. Chandler Stephenson used his speed off the rush to score the Golden Knights’ third and final goal of the game.
The Golden Knights scored all three of their goals in the first 6:17 of the game.
Jason Zucker scored off a deflection at 4:07 of the first period. There was nothing goaltender Adin Hill could have done to save the puck. The play started due to a turnover by Alex Pietrangelo in the defensive zone.
Clayton Keller gave the Coyotes hope by scoring a breakaway goal 3:40 into the third period to make it a one-goal game. Keller had just come onto the ice after a shot from Roy. Nick Schmaltz cleared the puck up ice to Keller who was behind Brayden McNabb. Keller beat Hill stick-side on the breakaway.
The Coyotes applied pressure with their goalie pulled but the Golden Knights were able to hang on for a 3-2 victory in regulation.
The win puts the Golden Knights at 68 points which created some separation with the Edmonton Oilers who have 59 points. More importantly, the Golden Knights gained two standings points on the Vancouver Canucks, who lost 4-0 to the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Golden Knights trail the Canucks by five points in the Pacific Division.
This was the Coyotes’ first game since Jan.27 which explained their slow start, and the Golden Knights were able to capitalize.
“We had the luxury of playing a game coming out of the break already.” Coach Bruce Cassidy on the importance of starting on time. “They (Coyotes) did not have that. Especially on the road, you prefer not to chase the game.”
Coach Cassidy scratched Zach Whitecloud in favor of Daniil Miromanov. This was Miromanov’s first game in 13 months.
“I thought he (Miromanov) did some good things.” Coach Cassidy on Miromanov’s game. “In the areas of his game, we were not sure about, below the goal line, he ended some plays. He took good angles and competed hard.”
The Golden Knights have three days off before next Monday’s game against the Minnesota Wild and then will be off for four days before next Saturday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes.