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VGK Stay Focused And Avoid The Emotion
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Friday, January 7, 2022

 

It’s safe to say that the return to T-Mobile was emotional for both Ryan Reaves and Gerard Gallant, but once the video tributes were shown to the 18,117 fans in attendance, the VGK got down to business and did not let anything derail their night with an impressive 5-1 victory over the New York Rangers, with the best record in the NHL when the night began. It was a battle of 2 first place teams in the standings, but it didn’t look like that on the ice.
Jonathan Marchessault scored the first goal of the game on a power play and closed the scoring with his team-leading 18th goal of the season. Kris Kreider drew the Rangers even with his team-leading 21st goal of the season on a shot that Robin Lehner completely fanned on. But that was as close as they came. Vegas scored the next 4 goals in a dominating performance that came after 2 uninspired games against the Winnipeg Jets and the Nashville Predators in which they earned just 1 point of a possible 4 on home ice.

But their win came with some emotional moments. Brett Howden, who was traded to the VGK from the Rangers last July, scored his 2nd goal in 2 games against his former team. Back on December 17, Howden had a goal and an assist in the VGK’s 3-2 shootout win. In that game, Jonathan Marchessault had the game-winning goal in the shootout. Last night was Howden’s 4th goal of the season, along with 6 assists in 26 games. Last year for the Rangers, Howden had 1 goal and 6 assists in 42 games. The duo of Howden and Marchessault have been a thorn in the side of Gallant and the NY Rangers in their 2 meetings.

The only way these 2 teams can play each other again this season is in the Stanley Cup Final. A long shot, but what a storyline that would be, especially for me. I grew up as a Rangers fan, having gone to my games at 9 years old. I suffered for a long time watching other teams lift the cup. I finally did see my dream come true on June 14, 1994. So a Stanley Cup Final with these 2 teams would be off the charts, not only for me but both cities.

Once again, the VGK outshot their opponent by a considerable margin, 45-17, and the Rangers didn’t register a shot on Lehner in the 3rd period until 14 minutes had been played with the score 5-1. You would have expected some sort of push back, but it never happened. The Rangers attempted to slow down the VGK with their physical play, a trademark of the coaching style of Gallant that was seen in just about every game during his tenure here as their head coach. New York had 45 hits in comparison to 17 for the VGK. Every Ranger forward except 2 had at least 1 hit.

The two players acquired by New York in the off-season in their attempt to play a heavy game against their division opponents were Barclay Goodrow and Ryan Reaves. Goodrow had a game-high 6 hits and Ryan Reaves had 3. Only 3 VGK forwards registered a hit last night: Kolesar, Carrier, and Stephenson.

Mark Stone returned to the lineup for his first game since Dec 21 vs. Tampa Bay and Robin Lehner returned after last playing on Long Island on Dec 19. Stone scored on a perfectly placed skate blade that he turned just enough to send it past the Ranger goaltender Georgiev, who didn’t stop that skate blade deflection, but he did stop 30 of the other 35 shots he faced. Stone’s goal was reviewed, and it was determined that there was no kicking motion. A lot of the Ranger fans in attendance and on social media had a different opinion. Georgiev also was waving no goal immediately after it crossed the goal line, but to no avail; referees St. Laurent and Halkidis conferred and with some help from the war room in Toronto, the call on the ice was upheld. Stone’s goal turned out to be his 7th of the season and his 2nd GWG.

In Robin Lehner’s return to the lineup, he stopped 18 of the 19 shots he faced and recorded his 15th win of the season and his 5th win in a row.

Other game notes and quotes

“We played against a good team tonight,” Gallant said. “Obviously, I would have liked to win tonight, coming back to this building.”

Reilly Smith had two assists last night.

The Golden Knights (23-13-1) are now 11-3-1 in their last 15.

When Ryan Reaves was asked about his video tribute, he said, “I’ll be honest, it kind of got to me a little bit. I wasn’t expecting that. I was a little flustered for the rest of the game.”

Marchessault said, “It was fun to see Gallant tonight and obviously it was a big game for him. But for us, it was business as usual, and we got the two points to get back in the win column here.”

Marchessault, who was selected from the Florida Panthers in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, played 22 games under Gallant with the Panthers in 2016-17.

“Turk has been great for my career, starting with my time in Florida. It was obviously really nice to see him,” Marchessault said. “He’s always a treat to be around and I was lucky enough to be coached by that guy for a couple of years. It’s unbelievable to have a quality coach like that.”

My 3 Stars of the game: Jonathan Marchessault (2G on just 2 SOG), Mattias Janmark (1G and his speed once again created his goal, almost an exact copy of his goal against Winnipeg that started the 2-goal 3rd period comeback), Mark Stone (not only his goal, but the team has a swagger when he’s on the ice or the bench; he’s the true leader of this team and is missed when he’s unable to play).

Next game is the one you’ve all been waiting for: the return of the Flower, tomorrow at 7 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

For more VGK content check out the (Hockey Knights in Vegas) Podcast that can be found at this link www.youtube.com/hockeyknightsinvegas/ or on my Facebook page

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.

Marchessault PPG

Marchessault 2nd goal of the game

Stone well-placed skate blade

About Huntington Press

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E-mail: cs@huntingtonpress.com

 

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