Blog: Dominant performance over Rangers sends Golden Knights to third-straight win

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Kathy Willens / AP

Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch, second from left, reacts with teammates after scoring his second goal during the first period against the New York Rangers, Monday, Dec. 2, 2019, in New York.

Published Mon, Dec 2, 2019 (3 p.m.)

Updated Mon, Dec 2, 2019 (6:30 p.m.)

NEW YORK — Twice on Monday, the Golden Knights scored a pair of goals in the span of about two minutes. They scored twice in the first, twice in the second and defeated the New York Rangers 4-1 at Madison Square Garden.

It was Vegas' third win in a row for the first time this season.

Alex Tuch got the game off to a terrific start for Vegas, scoring two goals in the first period. His speed was on full display, scoring his first after breaking free down the left-wing side and scoring his second after skating around the Rangers' defense down the right side.

Reilly Smith had a breakaway goal for the Golden Knights in the second, and Max Pacioretty had a one-time rocket of a goal on a feed from Cody Glass to put Vegas up 4-0 at 6:20 of the second period.

The Rangers answered late in the second on a deflected goal from Brendan Lemieux to trim the deficit to 4-1.

Once the third period rolled around, Vegas turned to protecting the lead rather than risking a breakdown while trying to extend it. The Golden Knights had only one shot on goal in the first 13 minutes of the frame, but also didn't allow much from the Rangers at 5-on-5. It's just what you want to see with a lead late in the game, slowing it down and not letting the opposition build any momentum.

The Golden Knights' special teams were terrific, killing off all five New York penalties and scoring on their two full power plays.

Vegas led in shots on goal for the game 32-30.

Golden Knights add 2 more to build lead on Rangers

The second period started much like the first for the Golden Knights. They spotted the New York Rangers some scoring chances to begin the frame, then punched in two more goals to take a 4-1 lead into the second intermission.

In the first period the Golden Knights scored two goals in a span of 2:16 , then in the second they scored twice in 1:36.

The first was the result of a Reilly Smith individual effort, picking the Rangers' pocket and going all the way down the ice unopposed and lifting a backhander over the sprawling Henrik Lundqvist at 4:44.

Then New York's Kaapo Kakko went to the box for high-sticking and the Golden Knights power play struck again. This time it was Max Pacioretty, threading a shot through Lundqvist on a one-time feed from Cody Glass, a perfect pass through the crease from the right side of the net on the goal line.

The Golden Knights went 10:17 without allowing a shot on goal between Filip Chytil's shot at 2:10 and Ryan Strome's at 12:27. Vegas had seven in that span.

The Rangers would not be shut out this night though, as Brendan Lemieux ended Malcolm Subban's shutout bid at 15:15. He posted up to Subban's left and redirected Mika Zibanejad's shot around Subban to make it 4-1.

Vegas led in shots on goal after two periods 28-19.

Alex Tuch scores twice in 1st as Golden Knights lead Rangers

Alex Tuch couldn't have started the game much better than he did. He scored, drew a penalty and scored again, all in the first four minutes of the game.

The Golden Knights started hot with plenty of looks at the net, grabbing a 2-0 lead after the first period against the New York Rangers.

Vegas jumped at the first puck drop, getting its first shot just 12 seconds into the game. Then 94 seconds into the game it had its first goal. Jonathan Marchessault found Tuch streaking down the left wing and Tuch had a clean lane to the net. Henrik Lundqvist made the save initially, but as the puck was laying in the crease, Lundqvist kicked it in as he tried to recover it.

That was at the start of Tuch's shift. At the end, he drew a penalty as once again he was streaking through the defense. He scored on the ensuing power play, banking a feed from Nate Schmidt on an odd-man rush.

The Golden Knights were all over the Rangers to start the game. Tuch had two goals by the time New York got its second shot, and at the first TV timeout at the 7:29 mark the Golden Knights led in shots on goal 13-2.

The Rangers did wake up later in the frame, which included a three-shot power play. Overall, Vegas led in shots on goal 17-12.

Golden Knights take on Rangers in family affair for Smith brothers

If Reilly Smith scores a goal tonight, there will be at least a few people in the Madison Square Garden crowd who will cheer for the visiting Golden Knights. But that same group will also be cheering if the Smith in a home sweater scores.

Today's 4 p.m. game against the New York Rangers will be the 19th time that brothers Reilly and Brendan Smith have played against each other, but that doesn't make it any less fun. And their parents will go home happy fans regardless of the outcome.

"It's always fun," Brendan Smith said. "I don't know if I'd say we take it easy or anything, we might even actually take it harder on each other. Just kind of a basement, back-street hockey kind of thing."

The Smith brothers played each other a lot more when they were both in the Eastern Conference. Before coming to Vegas, Reilly Smith played almost all of his career in Florida and Boston. Brendan Smith has spent his time in the NHL with the Rangers and in Detroit. They played each other 17 times between 2012 and 2017.

Since Reilly Smith's move to Vegas in 2017, their meetings have been more limited. The Golden Knights and Rangers only play each other twice per year, and the brothers have only met once since Reilly Smith joined the Golden Knights.

In 18 all-time meetings, Reilly Smith has 12 points against his brother's teams. Brendan Smith, usually a defenseman, has four points.

"I think it's nice for our families to be able to come to town and be able to see us and watch both of us play," Reilly Smith said. "Obviously it's a great experience for us, but it's nice to have our family be apart of it as well."

Brendan Smith has been a do-it-all kind of player for the Rangers. He's a defenseman usually, but this season he has also spent time on the wing. He's expected to play forward tonight, which could lead to the possibility that he lines up against his brother for a faceoff.

"Probably more on the (penalty kill) than anything. They're first line, so I won't see them as much as a fourth-line (player)," Brendan Smith said. "There's times where they might try to switch up the lines and I'll give him a little shove, maybe a little cross check. You never know."

Smith family reunion aside, tonight's game is the start of an important stretch for the Golden Knights. They've won two in a row, both after regulation, and start a three-game road trip unlike most of their usual trips. They play the Rangers in Manhattan, the Devils in Newark, New Jersey, and the Islanders on Long Island, giving them three road games in the same metro area.

Vegas also plays three times in four days, something that coach Gerard Gallant is pleased with.

"Back-to-back early in the trip, you get a day off then you play another one, so when you come this far it's good to play like that," Gallant said. "You don't want to spend too much time on the road."

Malcolm Subban will start in net for the fourth game in a row, while starter Marc-Andre Fleury remains away from the team. The Golden Knights hope Fleury rejoins the team on the trip, but if he doesn't, it's possible that emergency recall Garret Sparks sees game action, perhaps as soon as Tuesday in New Jersey.

Gallant announced Sunday that center Cody Eakin will be week-to-week with an upper-body injury after leaving Friday's game with an apparent head injury. Nicolas Roy was called up on an emergency basis and is expected to center the fourth line between Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves.

As a result, Cody Glass will play center on the third line with William Carrier and Alex Tuch on his wings.

TV: AT&T Sports Net (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760)

Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM

Betting line: Golden Knights minus-140, Rangers plus-120; over/under: 6 (minus-115, minus-105)

Golden Knights (13-11-4, 30 points) (6-6-1 road), fifth place, Pacific Division; third place, Wild Card

Coach: Gerard Gallant (third season)

Points leader: Max Pacioretty (25)

Goals leaders: Reilly Smith, Mark Stone (11)

Assists leaders: Max Pacioretty (16)

Expected goalie: Malcolm Subban (3.09 GAA, .901 save percentage)

Rangers (13-9-3, 29 points) (8-4-2 home), sixth place, Metropolitan Division; third place, Wild Card

Coach: David Quinn (second season)

Points leaders: Artemi Panarin (33)

Goals leaders: Artemi Panarin (12)

Assists leaders: Artemi Panarin (21)

Expected goalie: Henrik Lundqvist (3.16 GAA, .912 save percentage)

Golden Knights projected lineup

Forwards

Jonathan Marchessault—William Karlsson—Reilly Smith

Max Pacioretty—Paul Stastny—Mark Stone

William Carrier—Cody Glass—Alex Tuch

Tomas Nosek—Nicolas Roy—Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Brayden McNabb—Nate Schmidt

Nicolas Hague—Shea Theodore

Jon Merrill—Deryk Engelland

Goalies

Malcolm Subban, Garret Sparks

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