The Golden Knights scored three goals in the third period and ran away from the Calgary Flames in a 7-3 win Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Vegas took the lead four different times early as the teams alternated goals to a 4-3 Golden Knights’ lead.
The Flames thought they tied the game for a fourth time when Sean Monahan beat Marc-Andre Fleury in the third period, but the goal was eventually overturned after Gerard Gallant challenged the play and officials ruled Calgary offsides.
From there it was all Vegas, as Luca Sbisa hammered a slap shot through traffic and past Calgary goaltender David Rittich, and Tomas Nosek deflected another shot by Sbisa past Rittich to make it 6-3.
Cody Eakin scored a goal late to complete the 7-3 rout.
Marc-Andre Fleury earned his 20th win of the season for the Golden Knights, who will wrap up the long, seven-game homestand against Vancouver on Friday night.
Golden Knights lead 4-3 after two periods
The Golden Knights hold a 4-3 lead over the Flames after a roller coaster second period Wednesday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Calgary tied the game 2-2 only 20 seconds into the period when defenseman Dougie Hamilton roofed a shot over Marc-Andre Fleury’s shoulder for his 14th goal of the season.
Vegas then retook the lead 3-2 with a strange play where Flames’ goalie David Rittich made a blocker save on a shot by Colin Miller, and Reilly Smith batted the rebound into the net. It was Smith’s 20th goal of the season, the fifth Golden Knight to reach the mark.
The Flames tied the game briefly with a power play goal by Matthew Tkachuk, who was credited for the goal when Cody Eakin lost his stick and accidentally deflected the puck into his own net with his skate blade.
Less than three minutes later Alex Tuch gave Vegas its fourth different lead of the game with a top shelf shot over Rittich’s left shoulder.
Golden Knights lead 2-1 after one period
The Golden Knights dominated the Flames for nearly the entire first period, and lead 2-1 after 20 minutes of hockey.
Ryan Carpenter got Vegas on the board early with a highlight-reel goal in which he backhanded the puck behind his back without even looking towards the net. The puck slipped under Calgary goaltender David Rittich for a 1-0 lead only 2:26 into the game.
The Flames didn’t record a shot on goal until more than halfway through the period, with the puck in their defensive zone for much of it. While they couldn’t get much sustained pressure, the Flames tied the game 1-1 when defenseman T.J. Brodie tipped a shot through Marc-Andre Fleury’s legs 16:45 into the period.
It felt like Vegas would enter the locker room with a disappointing tie score until William Karlsson scored his 31st goal of the year on the power play. Karlsson’s goal came with only 31 seconds left in the half and was assisted by Reilly Smith and Nate Schmidt.
Vegas outshot Calgary 11-6 in the first period.
Marc-Andre Fleury will start his ninth straight game for the Golden Knights tonight against the Calgary Flames at T-Mobile Arena.
It’s by far the most consecutive games he’s played this season and is likely to continue with backup Malcolm Subban out with an upper-body injury. When healthy, Subban can spell Fleury without a huge drop off. But now Fleury has been forced to play nearly every game.
That’s fine with Fleury, according to coach Gerard Gallant.
“He missed a lot of time early on, so he’s fresh and ready to go,” Gallant said. “It’s different when you’re playing three games in four nights; then it will be a different story. I don’t think right now he’s tired at all. He feels good, he’s fresh and high-end goalies want to play this time of the year.”
Fleury has gone 5-3-0 during the stretch and stopped 18 of 20 shots during Tuesday night’s 2-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.
Opposite of Fleury, starting for the Flames, will be backup netminder David Rittich. Starter Mike Smith has missed the last four games after suffering a groin injury on Feb. 11. During that span, Rittich has struggled, going 1-2-1 while allowing 16 goals.
Calgary has plenty of scoring power to hang with the Golden Knights if the game turns into a shootout. Winger Johnny Gaudreau is in the top five in the NHL in assists (50) and points (69), and Sean Monahan leads the Flames with 27 goals.
“Their top two lines are skilled guys and talented guys,” Gallant said. “Monahan and Gaudreau are really talented hockey players. They work hard and they’re battling for points, so it should be a hell of a game tonight.”
No player on the Golden Knights knows Calgary better than defenseman Deryk Engelland, who played the last three seasons with the Flames.
“They have a great transition game and their defensemen all join in on the rush every single time,” Engelland said. “You have to really emphasise on the forecheck and even if it’s not a big hit, you have to bump them to slow them down."
“They’ve got a lot of speed all through the lineup, so they can hurt you in a lot of different ways,” he said.
Prediction: Golden Knights 4, Flames 3 in OT
Season record for predictions: 30-21
Puck drops: 7:30 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-170, Total 6 minus-125 to the under
Golden Knights (39-16-4) (22-5-2 home)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: William Karlsson (30)
Assist leader: David Perron (39)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (19-7-2, 2.07 goals against average)
Calgary Flames (30-21-9) (17-7-5 away)
Coach: Glen Gulutzan
Goal leader: Sean Monahan (27)
Assist leader: Johnny Gaudreau (50)
Expected goalie: David Rittich (6-3-3, 2.68 goals against average)
Golden Knights game day roster
Forwards (12): Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, Tomas Hyka, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, Stefan Matteau, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Jon Merrill, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Luca Sbisa and Nate Schmidt.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Maxime Lagace