The Golden Knights have overcome a two-goal deficit twice this season to win. And after Thursday's game, they've both come against the St. Louis Blues.
Jonathan Marchessault scored halfway through overtime on the power play, finishing off a 6-5 win against the Blues at T-Mobile Arena.
The Golden Knights trailed 4-2 in the second period. They outshot the Blues 52-24.
The Golden Knights started the scoring in the third period, entering the frame down 4-3. It was on the power play with Carl Gunnarsson in the box for holding, and Nate Schmidt put the puck on a tee from the point and fired a howitzer that beat everyone but the twine, tying the game 4-4 at 6:33 of the third.
The Vegas penalty kill did everything asked of it on the Blues' fifth goal. There was desperation on the ice, with plenty of blocked shots and sticks getting in the way but the Blues' push was just too much. As the penalty expired Zach Sanford positioned himself right in front of the crease and tapped in a behind-the-net feed from Colton Parayko.
It could have been a crusher for the Golden Knights, who had clawed back from down two in the second period. But Vegas wasn't quite done. Alex Tuch had a monster shift in the offensive zone and was rewarded with a tip-in goal. He fought for the puck down low, and when the Blues tried to clear, Chandler Stephenson gloved it down and gave it to Jon Merrill, whose shot Tuch deflected into the goal with 4:40 to play.
That was just the third period. The first period was even more bananas.
The game started as hot as a hockey game really could have. Sanford his first of the night for the Blues just 25 seconds in, then Max Pacioretty answered with a power-play goal a second shy of two minutes into the game. Pacioretty scored again 6:34 before Sanford answered at 9:41.
It was 2-2 at the midway point of the first period. The game slowed down a bit after that, but not before Mackenzie MacEachern scored and Sanford scored his third of the game.
Jonathan Marchessault brought the Golden Knights back within one thanks to a power-play goal with 61 seconds left in the middle period, and Schmidt's blast tied the game in the third before Sanford's fourth of the game.
Each team scores in second period as Golden Knights trail Blues
The Golden Knights watched their deficit grow to two goals, but a late one in the second period kept their chances alive. Vegas will be chasing one in the third period, trailing the St. Louis Blues 4-3 after two at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday.
The Blues kept up their efficient shooting in the second period. Following an Alex Tuch turnover in the defensive end, Zach Sanford positioned himself next to Malcolm Subban. As the Golden Knights scrambled to recover the puck, no one picked up Sanford and he took the Alex Pietrangelo feed and put it in the net for his third goal of the game at 5:13 of the second.
The Blues slowed the game down after that. They turned to the physical brand of hockey that became their calling card during last year's run to the Stanley Cup. They kept the puck along the boards and out of the center of the ice, where Vegas was unable to mount a comeback.
That was until a power play late in the third gave Vegas a chance. The Golden Knights caught a break when Ryan O'Reilly's stick broke, essentially forcing St. Louis to defend with three-and-a-half players. Jonathan Marchessault took advantage one-timing a feed from Mark Stone into the net with 1:01 left in the period.
It was a necessary goal for the Golden Knights, who have overcome a two-goal deficit only once this season. That was against the Blues in their last meeting, where Vegas also had a goal late in the second to trim the lead.
Vegas led in shots on goal 30-19 through two periods.
Fast-paced first period ends with Golden Knights down a goal
The only hope is that everyone attending the game got to their seats on time. The Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues traded four goals in the first 10 minutes of Thursday's game, and finished the first period with Vegas down 3-2 at T-Mobile Arena.
The Blues started the scoring, putting the puck in the net on their first shift of the game. They started their top line of Ryan O'Reilly, David Perron and Zach Sanford, and Vegas countered with its fourth line of Tomas Nosek, William Carrier and Ryan Reaves. St. Louis scored on its second shot of the game, a a Sanford blast from the circle just 25 seconds in.
Vegas wasn't down for long though. Max Pacioretty drew a penalty moments later and scored on his own power play. Shea Theodore and Mark Stone set him up, then Pacioretty whipped it from the right of the net into the goal at 1:59 to even the game 1-1.
The scoring was far from over. Pacioretty picked up his second of the game at 6:34, cleaning up a loose puck in front of the crease. It was his 26th of the season, and it was assisted by William Karlsson and Mark Stone.
Then not to be outdone, Sanford scored his second of the game for the Blues. He got the puck in front of the Vegas net with no one around him but Malcolm Subban, and took his time deking around Subban's attempts to save it and put it home at 9:41.
And then, the first half of the first period came to a close after a breakneck pace to start it.
The Blues didn't need many shots to score a trio of goals. They scored again, this time at 15:42 on a high-slot redirect from Ivan Barbashev. The Vegas fourth line struggled to get the puck out of the zone and no one picked up Barbashev, who was all alone to direct the Vince Dunn feed off of Mackenzie MacEachern into the net. It was St. Louis' third goal on just the sixth shot.
When the dust settled, the Golden Knights led in shots 14-9, but the Blues led where it mattered.
Golden Knights start homestand with test against Blues
The last time the St. Louis Blues came to town, the Golden Knights stunned them by overcoming a three-goal deficit and winning an emotional game in overtime.
The Blues won't be quick to forget that. They are the defending Stanley Cup champions and have shown no sort of Cup hangover, rolling through the regular season and sitting atop the Western Conference. The Golden Knights also haven't had much success all-time against St. Louis and will look to break that streak when the puck drops at 7 p.m. today at T-Mobile Arena.
"Obviously, any time you give up a three-goal lead, you never want to lose those games, especially this time of year," Vegas forward Chandler Stephenson said. "They're not really looking at 'we lost to these guys last time, we need to win.' Every team you play, you want to win."
Vegas has won just three of the eight all-time meetings with the Blues, but none in regulation. When they met at T-Mobile Arena on Jan. 4, it was the only time this year the Golden Knights had overcome even a two-goal deficit in a game, much less the three-goal deficit they overcame.
A lot has changed, though. The Golden Knights are 4-7-3 since then and have a new coach. It's a different team that knocked off the champs.
"That was a long time ago," Vegas forward Mark Stone said. "Looking back on it, there's a lot of areas that we need to be better against them. They're a big team. Big, fast and skilled. So we need to match the intensity and take it a step further."
While it's a small change, Stone has a new center in this matchup that will be something to watch tonight. Stone and fellow winger Max Pacioretty have had plenty of centers this season, and will flank William Karlsson, who is making his second appearance since missing eight games.
Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said this week at practice that he wasn't going back to an old line just because it worked in the past. He was indirectly referencing Karlsson's old line with Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, and keeping Paul Stastny between Smith and Marchessault even after Karlsson's return is evidence of that.
What Vegas has in a Pacioretty-Karlsson-Stone trio is arguably the two best wingers on the team with the best center on the team. It could pay huge dividends.
"I think that he's one of those guys that no matter who you play him with, he's going to make that line go. He has that ability," DeBoer said. "When you can put him with a couple other elite guys, you have the potential to have a game-changing type of line."
Malcolm Subban will start in goal for Vegas, his second start since Jan. 9 and second under DeBoer. He's struggled this season, with a .898 save percentage for the year, and particularly in his last six starts, where he has an .874 save percentage.
Vegas will face Blues goalie Jordan Binnington, who followed up a strong rookie season with a .910 save percentage this campaign. He did not start in the last meeting between these two teams but made 23 saves in a 4-2 Blues win in St. Louis on Dec. 12.
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-150, Blues plus-130; over/under: 6.0 (minus-105, minus-115)
Golden Knights (28-22-8, 64 points) (14-10-4 home), third place, Pacific Division
Coach: Peter DeBoer (first season)
Points leader: Mark Stone (53)
Goals leader: Max Pacioretty (24)
Assists leader: Mark Stone (33)
Expected goalie: Malcolm Subban (2.98 GAA, .898 save percentage)
Blues (32-15-9, 73 points) (14-10-4 road), first place, Central Division
Coach: Craig Berube (second season)
Points leader: David Perron (54)
Goals leader: David Perron (23)
Assists leader: Ryan O'Reilly (39)
Expected goalie: Jordan Binnington (2.66 GAA, .910 save percentage)
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault—Paul Stastny—Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty—William Karlsson—Mark Stone
Chandler Stephenson—Cody Eakin—Alex Tuch
William Carrier—Tomas Nosek—Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb—Nate Schmidt
Jon Merrill—Shea Theodore
Nick Holden—Deryk Engelland
Malcolm Subban, Marc-Andre Fleury