NEW YORK — If there was a better way to start a road trip, you’d be hard-pressed to find one.
The Golden Knights did everything right. Hot start? Goal 94 seconds into the game. No letup? A 4-0 lead before the halfway point of the second period. Special teams? They were 2-for-2 on the power play and 6-for-6 on the penalty kill.
It was a complete performance, the type of 60-minute game the team has preached that it needs. The Golden Knights have won three in a row for the first time this season, and it finally seems like they’re getting the results they felt they’ve deserved.
“A game’s never perfect,” forward Alex Tuch said. “But I thought all 60 minutes we were really working hard and really, I guess too many penalties. That’s about it. That’s all I saw.”
Tuch played his best game of the season, scoring at 1:34 and 3:50 of the first period, blowing by New York defenders on both instances. He doubled his goal total in one night, notching his third and fourth of the season.
He was playing on a new line, though neither center Cody Glass nor William Carrier were directly involved in the first goal and weren’t on the ice for the second. With Cody Eakin out week-to-week with an upper-body injury, Vegas slid Glass from the wing to the middle and elevated Carrier to the left wing.
All parties involved seemed pleased with the moves. They weren’t spectacular when they were on the ice together but solid, relying on speed in a way they haven’t before.
“I really like Cody in the middle,” Tuch said. “Then playing with Will, he really matches my speed on the outside.”
Glass has been a center virtually his entire life, coming up through juniors and the minors and even making his NHL debut in the middle. He’s been playing on Eakin’s wing when the latter is healthy, a deference to the veteran’s defensive ability.
“He looked really good tonight and it helps when he’s playing center ice, too,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “He understands why he’s played wing most of the year so far. But he’ll get his chance and when he plays center he’s taken advantage of it.”
Then there was Malcolm Subban, the goalie in net for all three wins on the current streak. He was solid against Nashville, tremendous against Arizona and very good Monday against New York.
The defense was quite good in front of him. Thanks to six penalties, none of which ended in a power-play goal, the Rangers spent 9:33 of ice time on the power play, helping them to a 71-59 edge in shot attempts at all strength for the game. But they still narrowly trailed the Golden Knights in scoring chances (35-33), high-danger chances (15-14) and expected goals (2.91-2.89).
The Rangers were basically the equivalent of a basketball volume shooter. They got the shot attempts, but not too many good ones. And when they did get good ones, Subban was there to turn them away.
“Sometimes it’s just a tendency to sit back and try to keep people on the outside, but when you’re doing that, you’re giving them a little more time with the puck and if you give good players time they’ll make some plays,” forward Reilly Smith said. “That’s something we don’t want to do, but it seems like that’s the tendency with a lot of teams.
“We’ve got to keep making sure we keep pucks on the outside. But saying that, they did find a couple of seams, and (Subban) was able to make some big saves. He’s been great for us all season and he did another great job tonight.”