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Knights on Ice — Just as Bad as a Check from Evander Kane
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Saturday, March 13, 2021

 

A lead in a St. Louis Blues vs. Vegas Golden Knights game is as bad as having a check written by Evander Kane. Both the lead in these games and a check from Kane never amount to much.

Last night’s game was no different. The multi-goal leads added up to nothing after 60 minutes. For the first time in the franchise history, the VGK won a game in St. Louis in overtime, 5-4, when Reilly Smith scored on the power play. Smith drew the tripping penalty, then scored the winning goal.

You read that right.

The VGK scored a power-play goal after going 0-13 on their power play in their previous 5 games. They were 0-2 in last night’s game before Smith potted his PPG past Jordan Binnington. On the first 2 power plays, they managed zero shots on goal. St. Louis actually had a decent scoring chance on the Knights’ 2nd power play.

Obviously, the power play is a recurring problem, so don’t let Reilly Smith’s PPG fool you into thinking it’s fine now. With Pietrangelo out and Shea Theodore going invisible lately, it’s not about to get better anytime soon.

Vegas had leads of 2-0 and 3-1 and actually fell behind 4-3 when St. Louis scored 3 unanswered goals before Alec Martinez snuck in from the blueline to tap home the tying goal shortly after David “VGK Killer” Perron put the Blues ahead for the first time with his power-play goal with 9:40 left in the game. Martinez’s goal came just 47 seconds later.

St. Louis was 7-0-4 vs. the VGK overall. Five of the 12 games between these 2 teams in four seasons have required overtime or a shootout to decide the winner.

Vegas extended their OT record to 5-0 in the 5-minute OT period. Their only loss in a shootout was against St. Louis on Jan 26 by the same exact score of 5-4, which nullified a Max Pacioretty hat trick that night. The VGK has lost both games in which a VGK player scored a hat trick.

The win last night keeps the VGK on top of the Honda West Division with 35 points. Minnesota, which swept both games this week against Vegas, is in 2nd place, just 2 points behind Vegas. Minnesota has played 25 games, while the VGK and the San Jose Sharks have played 24, the least in the division. The 4 teams that were predicted to qualify for the playoffs in the West are starting to pull away from the other 4 teams. Just 3 points separate the top 4 teams; the bottom 4 teams are fading fast and these 4-point division games are a major reason for the separation from L.A., Arizona, San Jose, and Anaheim.

In an effort to create some offense from the 3rd and 4th lines, Pete DeBoer made a small adjustment mid-game. He moved Tomas Nosek up to the wing on the 3rd line and sent Cody Glass down to the 4th line. DeBoer’s moves seem to always generate a good result. Shortly after moving him, Nosek scored his first goal since opening night; he took a pass from Dylan Coghlan, who pinched in from the blueline and was actually behind the goal line when he sent the tape-to-tape pass. Nosek buried it, giving Vegas their second 2-goal lead of the game. The DeBoer game plan is to have his defensemen join in on the offensive rush and that was not only clear last night, but it paid huge dividends on both Nosek and Martinez’s goals.

The 1A line of Marchessault-Karlsson-Smith were buzzing the entire game and they were consistently in the area directly in front of the blue paint, which hasn’t been happening a lot as of late. Greasy and dirty goals are mandatory these days if you want to be successful, as the caliber of goaltending is the best it’s been in a decade. Goaltenders most likely stop shots from the outside if they can see the puck. Screen shots, quick cross-ice passes, and pucks at their feet cause them the most problems. All of the 5 VGK goals scored last night fall into these categories.

Fleury is so quick and acrobatic that he’s much better than most goaltenders with pucks at his feet. Coming into last night’s game, his 14th start in the last 15 games, Fleury led all goaltenders with a 1.73 GAA a .938 Save percentage, along with 4 shutouts. He was 4th overall with 12 wins before last night’s 13th of Vegas’ 17 wins.

Goals from VGK defenders seem to be the norm these days. Prior to last night’s game, no VGK forwards had scored a goal in the previous 2 games. Last night, all 9 goals in the game were scored by different players.

The next game is tonight at St. Louis at 5 p.m. Pacific Time, which will end their 6-game road trip. They return to T-Mobile on Monday with now 20% capacity allowed to see the game live, against the team with the guy who writes those bouncing checks.

My 3 Stars of the Game: Reilly Smith (game-winning goal, 1 assist), Jonathan Marchessault (1G, 1A), Alec Martinez (1G, 1 A), and the entire line of Marchy, Wild Bill and Reilly

Your comments and opinions are welcome here at Las Vegas Advisor or you may contact me directly at [email protected] or on my Facebook page or the Facebook page of Vegas Hockey Guy or on Twitter @TheRealJoePane

One other note: If you’re reading this blog from Facebook or Twitter and would like to access it earlier in the morning before I share it on social media, it’s usually published by 8 a.m. the morning after a game on LasVegasAdvisor.com. What better way is there to enjoy your morning coffee than reading my take on last night’s VGK game?

Nosek’s goal

Martinez’ tying goal

Smith’s GWG in OT

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