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Knights on Ice — One Step Closer
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Thursday, November 25, 2021


Granted, it may be just baby steps, but slowly, the VGK are getting their players back into the game.

Last night Max Pacioretty returned from a fractured foot and William Carrier returned to the lineup in last night’s 5-2 victory over the Nashville Predators. Pacioretty had been out since Oct. 14 and Carrier since Nov 9. Jonathan Marchessault is expected to return in the pivotal game on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers at T-Mobile.

Not so long ago, the Oilers were double-digit points ahead of the VGK, who started the season losing 4 of their first 5 games. But when you look at the standings this morning, the VGK trail Edmonton by only 4 points and Calgary, on top of the division, by 5. Since they stumbled out of the gate in their first 5 games, Vegas has won 11 of their last 15 and now occupy a playoff spot that’s not a wild card.

Unlike Monday’s lackluster loss to St. Louis, the VGK didn’t blow a 2-0 lead and give up 5 unanswered goals. Last night, they scored the first 3 goals of the game and technically never looked back.

Chandler Stephenson opened the scoring, like he did in St. Louis. It wasn’t in the first minute of the game, but instead in the last 48 seconds of the first period. Goals scored that late in a period are usually a big momentum boost.

Just 3:01 into the second period Jonas Rondbjerg scored his 2nd goal of the season, picking up the puck at the blue line off a Predator turnover. On Stephenson’s opening goal, Mark Stone picked the pocket of Mattias Ekholm, sending Chandler in alone on Juuse Saros, who stopped only 30 of the 34 shots he faced.

Adam Brooks scored his first goal as a VGK halfway through the 2nd period, sending the VGK into the 3rd period with a 3-0 lead.

Nashville finally got one by Robin Lehner, who was coming off a sub-par performance in St. Louis. Robin was in the zone last night, like he’s been for all but two of his starts. Robin stopped 26 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .929.

Filip Forsberg scored Nashville’s first goal 5:20 into the 3rd period. His goal was quickly nullified by Alex Pietrangelo’s shorthander just 2:44 later. Forsberg scored his 2nd on the power play with 6:09 left in the game. Nashville had 6 power play chances and converted on 1. Vegas’ PK unit was all over Nashville and had 4 shots on Saros while they were shorthanded. The Nashville PP unit made the VGK power play unit look halfway decent. But Vegas was still 0-2 and had 4 SOG, while Nashville had 5 shots on their 6 PP chances.

In a time snafu during a 2nd period penalty to Zach Whitecloud, neither the game clock nor the penalty clock moved for 34 seconds, during which the 5-on-4 Nashville scored a goal. While the on-ice officials conferred with the off-ice official in trying to correct the clock, the VGK coaching staff had ample time to look at the PPG. They wound up disputing the goal for goaltender interference and it was determined that Robin Lehner had, in fact, been interfered with. The goal was removed and that kept the Vegas lead at 3-0.

Mark Stone finally got his first goal of the season last night, even though it was into an empty net. Stone’s play away from the puck set up Stephenson’s goal. Stone’s value is realized on the entire 200 x 80 surface of the ice.

Other game notes and quotes.

“He’s a thoroughbred as a player,” Peter DeBoer said of Max Pacioretty. “He had a non-weight-bearing injury that he had to basically stay off for five weeks. So he wasn’t allowed to do anything. He’s had a week of skating and he jumps in, plays 17 minutes, and looks really good. Not many guys can do that.”

“It’s pretty obvious I’ve been a little frustrated,” Stone said, “taking my anger out a little bit too much in the last few games. I had to just relax and play again. I hit the goalie in the chest four times again tonight, on the breakaway [and] chances in the slot.
“But to see that one go in, it will hopefully put my mind at ease a little bit.”

My 3 Stars of the Game: Chandler Stephenson (1G, 1A), Mark Stone (1G, 1A), Robin Lehner (26 saves on 28 shots)

Next game is Saturday vs. Edmonton at T-Mobile. Please note the starting time of 4 p.m.

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.

Stephenson’s opening goal

Pietrangelo’s Shorthanded goal

Rondbjerg’s 2nd goal of the season

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