The Golden Knights scored two third period-goals but their comeback bid fell just short Tuesday night in Pittsburgh as they lost 5-4 to the Penguins.
Marc-Andre Fleury’s warm welcome to Pittsburgh, where he played the first 13 years of his career, eventually ran out at PPG Paints Arena.
The Golden Knights’ netminder received his ring for winning last year’s Stanley Cup Championship with the Penguins Tuesday morning, watched an emotional video tribute to his time in Pittsburgh during in the first period and then stopped the first 16 shots of the game as Vegas raced out to a 2-0 lead.
From there the Golden Knights fell apart at the seams, allowing five straight goals by the Penguins in a span of 17 minutes.
Pittsburgh got unlikely contributions from Ryan Reaves and Ian Cole, who each scored their third goal of the season, then stars Jake Guentzel, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel gave the Penguins a commanding lead.
Vegas would rally with third period-goals from Ryan Carpenter and Jonathan Marchessault but fell short.
It was Carpenter’s second goal in the last two games, while Marchessault added his 19th goal of the season. He also picked up his 32nd assist of the season on a first period-goal by William Karlsson, and he leads the Golden Knights with 50 points on the season.
With the loss Vegas falls to 3-2-0 on the current road trip, and will wrap it up Thursday night in San Jose.
Penguins lead 3-2 after two periods
The Penguins scored three goals in under eight minutes to storm back and take a 3-2 lead over the Golden Knights after two periods in Pittsburgh.
Vegas extended its lead to 2-0 early in the period when James Neal put a backhand shot past Pittsburgh goaltender Matt Murray. It was Neal’s 23rd goal of the season and his second against his former team.
The lead would not last, as Ryan Reaves got the Penguins on the board with a wrist shot under Marc-Andre Fleury’s glove. It was only Reaves’ third goal of the season, and he wouldn’t be the only unexpected Penguin to contribute.
Defenseman Ian Cole tied the game 2-2 with his third goal of the season, and Jake Guentzel gave Pittsburgh a 3-2 lead only 1:16 later.
The Penguins have not lost a game this season when leading entering the third period with a perfect record of 16-0-0.
Golden Knights lead 1-0 after one period
Fighting back tears, Golden Knights’ goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 12 of the Penguins shots in the first period Tuesday in Pittsburgh.
In his first return to the city where he spent the first 13 years of his NHL career, Fleury was met with a standing ovation from the crowd and a video tribute played on the jumbotron during the first television break.
The Golden Knights’ hot streak on the power play continued when William Karlsson scored to give Vegas a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes of hockey. Karlsson put a one-timer shot through Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray’s pads after a centering pass by Jonathan Marchessault only 2:09 into the game.
Fleury preserved the Golden Knights’ lead with multiple saves in the final minutes of the period, the most impressive of which came on a breakaway chance for Jake Guentzel. The Penguins center streaked in alone, deked and fired a backhand shot over Fleury’s outstretched pad but Fleury stopped the puck with his glove.
Vegas is 22-1-0 this season when scoring first, while Pittsburgh is 6-16-1 when surrendering the first goal.
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury played nearly 700 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins and hoisted the Stanley Cup three different times while wearing the black and “Pittsburgh Gold.”
He returns today to western Pennsylvania for the first time as the opposition.
Fleury, or “Flower” as teammates and coaches affectionately call him, won’t be met with vitriol or hostility. He’s beloved by the fans of Pittsburgh, and today’s homecoming will be more of a celebration than anything.
This morning, he finally received his ring for last year’s Stanley Cup Championship with the club. Fleury opted to get the ring after morning skate rather than during pregame ceremonies to avoid any added distractions it could cause for his current team, because there is still a hockey game to be played.
The Golden Knights are an impressive 3-1-0 on their current road trip with two games remaining. They have already handled the Penguins in Las Vegas, with a 2-1 win Dec. 14, but the defending Cup champions seem to have hit their stride as of late. Pittsburgh is 9-3-0 in its last 12 games, and star centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are producing.
Malkin has scored eight goals in his last four games and is second in the NHL with 29 goals, while Crosby has soared to seventh in assists with 41. The two captain the league’s No. 1-ranked power play that has converted on 27.6 percent of its chances, but tonight they’ll have to beat an old teammate to score.
At 33 years old, Fleury is having the best season of his career statistically. He is posting career-high marks in save percentage (.939) and goals against average (1.84) and has a quality start percentage of .810 (his previous season high was .667).
With a pregame video tribute planned for Fleury, the Golden Knights will have to ignore the emotions in the building and focus to come out with another big road win.
Prediction : Golden Knights 3, Penguins 2
Season record for predictions: 27-18
Puck drops: 4 p.m.
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink Prism 1760)
Betting line: Golden Knights plus-115, Total 6 minus-115 to the under
Golden Knights (35-13-4) (16-10-2 road)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: William Karlsson (27)
Assist leader: David Perron (33)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (15-4-2, 1.84 goals against average)
Pittsburgh Penguins (29-22-3) (19-7-1 home)
Coach: Mike Sullivan
Goal leader: Evgeni Malkin (29)
Assist leader: Sidney Crosby (41)
Expected goalie: Matt Murray (17-12-1, 2.93 goals against average)
Golden Knights game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Brendan Leipsic, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, David Perron, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brad Hunt, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban