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Golden Knights overcome slow start to down Vancouver Canucks

Noah Strang
NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Vegas Golden Knights
Nov 13, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7) celebrates with right wing Reilly Smith (19) and center Jonathan Marchessault (81) after scoring a third period goal against the Vancouver Canucks at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights stayed red-hot as they beat the Vancouver Canucks 7-4 on Saturday night for their eighth win in the last 10 games. Captain Mark Stone returned to the lineup after missing multiple games with an injury sustained in an early-season matchup against the Los Angeles Kings.

The Canucks were coming off a brutal 7-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche and were looking to make a statement. Despite their best efforts, they couldn’t find a way to beat the Golden Knights and continue their slide down the standings.

The Golden Knights’ seven goals is their largest total in a single game during this season so far. They scored on two of their six power play attempts and got scoring contributions from multiple lines. While each team scored four goals at 5-on-5, it was the Golden Knights superior special teams that made the difference.

The Golden Knights have still never lost to the Canucks in regulation during the regular season since their inception. This streak has now spanned eleven games as the Golden Knights have established themselves as the big brother in this relationship despite their young age.

This was the third consecutive regulation win for the Golden Knights to start this six-game home stand. By grabbing all six of the points that have been up for grabs, and consequentially preventing their divisional opponents from taking any, the Golden Knights now find themselves only two points back of the division lead. While it wasn’t pretty, the mark of a contender is that they can win in a variety of ways.

“Good teams find a way to win, and that’s what we did tonight.” commented Marchessault postgame.

Golden Knights Exorcise Their Demons

NHL: Vancouver Canucks at Vegas Golden Knights
Nov 13, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) congratulates goaltender Robin Lehner (90) after the Golden Knights defeated the Vancouver Canucks at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Golden Knights fans will be very familiar with Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko after the playoff matchup between these two teams during the COVID-19 modified bubble playoffs. Demko was spectacular in that series and was the lone reason that it went to seven games as he put the entire Canucks team on his back.

“I still wake up in cold sweats thinking about Thatcher Demko and some of the saves he made,” said head coach Peter DeBoer before the game.

Tonight the story was reversed as the Golden Knights attacked Demko in waves and managed to score seven times. They scored more goals on Demko tonight in a single game than they did during that playoff series. It started with a 5-on-3 that was converted by Dadonov and ended with Jonathan Marchessault scoring his team-leading ninth of the season.

Special Teams Make the Difference

The Golden Knights have struggled with their special teams early this season, but things are starting to turn around and last night’s game was perhaps the first time this season where they were the reason that they won the game. They finished even with the Canucks in even-strength goals but rode their power play to victory.

Alex Pietrangelo played significant minutes on both the penalty kill and the power play and continued to display his value to the team. He grabbed a first assist on the game winning goal by Marchessault in the third period.

The return of Mark Stone also helped. While he was clearly shaking a bit of the rust off early in the game, it was obvious that he got his legs back as he got more ice time. Stone is one of the most complete players in the league and his return is crucial to this team’s success.

Brayden McNabb Providing a Steady Presence

Brayden McNabb is one of the defenders on this roster that doesn’t always get a lot of attention despite being crucial to the team’s success. He is someone that DeBoer leans on heavily to kill penalties and he has done a fantastic job during these past few games as neither the Canucks nor the Minnesota Wild in the previous game scored with the man-advantage.

McNabb has also been showing up more often on highlight reels because of his devastating checks. He delivered another one on Saturday night as he sent Canucks rookie Vasili Podkolzin flying across the ice. In addition, he scored his second goal of the season last night.

“We always talk about Theo [Shea Theodore] or Petro [Alex Pietrangelo], but for me as a goalie you have a special appreciation for a guy like McNabb.” said goalie Robin Lehner, “He’s so good at what he does and he calms things down for us.”

The Golden Knights play their next game on Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. The puck will drop at 7 PM Pacific Time at T-Mobile Arena.