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Knights on Ice — Only His 5th, But a Big One
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For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Thursday, May 6, 2021


The expectations for Alex Pietrangelo upon his arrival to Las Vegas as a free agent prior to the start of this season were immense. Multiple VGK players were moved in the off season to allow Vegas to be under the cap for Pietrangelo’s $8.8 million salary over the next 7 years. Nate Schmidt was traded to Vancouver and Paul Stastny to Winnipeg. Even with these moves, Vegas started the season not having the ability to carry a full roster of 25 skaters. Then with injuries, which seem to be occurring just about every game this season, Vegas had to juggle lineups of 11 forwards and 7 defensemen, and in one game, just 10 forwards. Last night was the 6th time they were forced to play shorthanded and the VGK were 0-4-1 when dressing less that the 18 skaters for a game.  

Last night Pietrangelo scored a big goal — the biggest since he became a VGK for their 3-2 win in OT to salvage a 2-game road trip to Minnesota, a game that appeared headed for the same result as Monday’s disaster. Once again Vegas blew a 3rd period lead, allowing 2 goals by Minnesota just 2:10 apart to overcome Chandler Stephenson’s goal in the second period for the 1-0 VGK lead after a scoreless first period that included some bloody noses and a lot of post-whistle scrums. 

To say Pietrangelo’s offensive production through his first 36 games as a VGK has been disappointing would not be a stretch. Keep in mind that he not only had COVID, but also suffered a wrist injury and was adjusting to playing with a new team and a new system after spending 12 seasons and playing 758 games with the St Louis Blues, who drafted him 4th overall in the 2008 NHL amateur draft. In his prior 36 games with Vegas, Pietrangelo had zero PPG, only 3 PPP, and had 4 goals and 14 points. In his last 4 seasons with St. Louis, he scored 18 power play goals and that was a key factor in his signing with Vegas. His lack of PPG this season can be attributed to the dismal power play that Vegas has had all season 

The Minnesota Wild are attempting to set a tone for a possible playoff matchup against Vegas by trying to push them around physically. It doesn’t hurt Minnesota’s new game plan that Ryan Reaves is out injured. Things would not be like this if he was in the game, you can go to the bank on that. He creates room on the ice for the other 17 VGK skaters just by sitting on the bench when he’s not on the ice.

Last night’s win, combined with the Colorado Avalanche losing to the San Jose Sharks, offset the Monday-night loss and reestablished a 4-point lead over the Av’s for the top spot in the Honda West Division. With Minnesota picking up a valuable point by getting to the OT period, they’re only 1 point behind the Av’s for 2nd place. The Av’s have played 1 less game than both Vegas and the Wild. It’s going to be a Wild finish for these 3 teams and home ice is at stake.

Last night’s win was only the second win for the VGK in Minnesota in their entire franchise history, and ironically, both wins were in OT or a shootout. Vegas maintains their perfect record of 8-0 in the 5-minute OT this season.

It was Marc-Andre Fleury’s turn in the net last night and he didn’t disappoint. He entered the game with a 6-game winning streak, one shy of his personal high in the 2013-14 season with the Pittsburgh Penguins when he won the first 7 games to start the season. This 7-game win streak is also a VGK record for goaltenders. The win last night was his 490th, moving him into sole possession of 3rd place in all-time wins for a goaltender. 

This is what I call my “crazy-thought section,” so please indulge me. Fleury is used to playing in excess of 60 games in a normal season. This season, because of the 56-game schedule and having the rotation with Lehner, Fleury may play only 38 games. He’s looked spectacular this season and he has 1 year remaining on his contract. I’ll go out on a limb here and suggest that he can play beyond next season’s contract. He’s already hinted that if he’s still feeling good and having fun, he wants to continue playing. Can the VGK afford him at $7 million per year, especially with no sign of the salary cap being increased? Of course not. But Fleury loves playing and living in Las Vegas and I would bet he’d take a hometown discount on a 1-year contract to stay in Vegas and chase his boyhood idol Patrick Roy for the #2 spot on the all-time wins list at 551. Fleury could easily win 62 games over the next 2 seasons. Remember where you heard this 2 years from now. It won’t be as crazy a thought then as it is now. 

Other Game Notes 

Of the 37 VGK wins this season, 28 have come when they’ve scored the first goal of the game. In my post covering Monday’s game. I noted that Alec Martinez’s shot-blocking streak was broken. However, hours after the game he was credited with a blocked shot, so his streak remains intact and last night he had 4 blocked shots along with Pietrangelo. His streak is now up to an impressive 48 games. Martinez is a force and will be an off-season problem for the VGK as his contract expires in 4 games. Even though Reilly Smith was on the ice for the 2 Minnesota goals in the 3rd period, he scored an important PPG with just 4:16 left in the 3rd period to get the game to OT, setting up Pietrangelo’s biggest goal of the year. In their last 5 games, the VGK have been outscored in the 3rd period 9-1. This is a period that Vegas has dominated for their first 47 games.

My 3 Stars of the Game 

1) Alex Pietrangelo (GWG in OT) 

2) Kirill Kaprizov (2G and almost single-handedly beat the VGK 2 games in a row) 

3) Marc-Andre Fleury (26 saves on 28 shots for a .929 save % and kept the “HOT” Minnesota power play scoreless in 3 attempts) 

Next game is Friday vs. St. Louis @ 7 PM Pacific Time at T-Mobile  

If you want to hear and see more VGK content, please check out the podcast I do with Eddie Rivkin on YouTube. It’s called Hockey Knights in Vegas. Here is a link to our previous podcast. Enjoy.  

Hockey Knights in Vegas – YouTube 

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 at LasVegasAdvisor.com. What better way is there to enjoy your morning coffee than reading my take on last night’s VGK game.

Pietro’s winning goal in OT
Kaprizov’s goal that put Minnesota ahead
Reilly Smith PPG that tied the game

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