Reilly Smith scored twice as the Golden Knights throttled the Montreal Canadiens 6-3 Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Both teams scored early and often, with five goals in the first 12 minutes of the game. Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi was pulled from the game only 9:51 into the contest after allowing goals to Smith, Brad Hunt and Tomas Nosek.
Vegas led 3-2 after one period, and extended its lead to 5-2 with Smith’s second goal of the game and Ryan Carpenter’s fifth goal of the season in the second period.
Nate Schmidt blasted a shot past Carey Price to stretch the Golden Knights’ lead to 6-2, then Montreal’s Jonathan Drouin scored a power play goal midway through the the third period.
Marc-Andre Fleury made 30 saves in the win. Fleury has now won two in a row and three of his last four starts.
The win gives the Golden Knights 22 at T-Mobile Arena this season, which ties them with the Hartford Whalers for the most ever by a team in its inaugural season. They continue their homestand by hosting Anaheim, Calgary and Vancouver in the upcoming week.
Golden Knights lead 5-2 after two periods
The Golden Knights continued their scoring onslaught against the Montreal Canadiens during the second period Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena, extending their lead to 5-2.
Vegas forward Ryan Carpenter scored his fifth goal of the season when he surprised Montreal goalie Carey Price with a sneaky shot through traffic from the slot, then Reilly Smith scored his second goal of the game only 39 seconds later.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare appeared on the ice briefly after being injured in the first period, but quickly returned to the locker room for the remainder of the game.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped all 10 of the Canadiens shots on goal in the second period, and has a total of 19 saves on the night.
Golden Knights lead 3-2 after one period
The Golden Knights lead the Canadiens 3-2 after a wild first period Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Vegas opened the scoring only 2:16 into the game when Reilly Smith slapped a one-timer past Montreal goalie Antti Niemi. The power play goal was Smith’s 18th of the season and was assisted by a well-timed cross-ice pass by defenseman Nate Schmidt, who is tied with Colin Miller for most assists by any Golden Knights’ defenseman with 24.
The Canadiens answered quickly with a goal by Charles Hudon after he skated around defenseman Brad Hunt, who was caught flat-footed on the play.
Hunt would make up for it, though, with a wrist shot that danced through traffic on the way to the net and slipped past Niemi to make it 2-1.
Niemi surrendered a third goal in less than 10 minutes, to Tomas Nosek, and was pulled from the game by Canadiens coach Claude Julien.
Former Vezina-winning goaltender Carey Price took his place, and stopped the five shots he faced while Nikita Scherbak scored for Montreal to cut the deficit to 3-2.
Vegas may have to play the remainder of the game with a short bench, as six minutes into the game Pierre-Edouard Bellemare went down awkwardly into the boards and came up holding his left hand. He went straight back to the locker room,
returned for a brief moment, then went straight back into the tunnel.
The Golden Knights host the Montreal Canadiens this evening at T-Mobile Arena. The early 4 p.m. start time is due to the fact that the game is being televised on Hockey Night in Canada.
At minus-255 the Golden Knights are the largest favorite they’ve been this season.
That’s partially due to their stellar 21-4-2 record at home paired with the Canadiens awful 8-18-1 record away from Montreal.
“I know that if you come in here, especially in their home building, and you’re not ready you’re going to get burned,” Canadiens coach Claude Julien said. “They’re having a great year and they’re confident. Everybody around the league respects them because of how hard they compete. When you look at guys that were left aside and not protected by their team, and they’re up to 30 goals now.”
Golden Knights’ forward William Karlsson scored his 30th goal of the season in Vegas’ 4-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.
“There are a lot of guys that are playing with a chip on their shoulders and they want to prove to their former team and the rest of the league that they’re good players,” Julien said.
The Golden Knights’ expansion selection from the Canadiens was defenseman Alexei Emelin, who they quickly dealt to Nashville for a third-round pick, so there is no player with a chip on his shoulder tonight.
However, many players on the Golden Knights grew up as Canadiens fans.
“It’s a team you grow up watching and you have fun following them for so many years,” David Perron said. “I try to make it a normal game and not think about it too much. Now I kind of feel normal instead of nervous, where when I was in St. Louis early on in my career it was tough to play against Montreal for sure.”
Another reason the Golden Knights are such large favorites is the Canadiens are starting backup goaltender Antti Niemi in place of former Vezina-winning Carey Price. Niemi started the season in Pittsburgh, but was waived after surrendering 16 goals in three games.
Prediction: Golden Knights 6, Canadiens 2
Season record for predictions: 29-20
Puck drops: 4 p.m.
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink Prism 1760)
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-255, Total 6 minus-120 to the under
Golden Knights (38-15-4) (21-4-2 home)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: William Karlsson (30)
Assist leader: David Perron (37)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (18-6-2, 2.03 goals against average)
Montreal Canadiens (22-28-7) (8-18-1 away)
Coach: Claude Julien
Goal leader: Brendan Gallagher (21)
Assist leader: Alex Galchenyuk (21)
Expected goalie: Antti Niemi (2-2-1, 2.41 goals against average)
Golden Knights game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Brendan Leipsic, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brad Hunt, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Luca Sbisa and Nate Schmidt.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Oscar Dansk