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Vegas Golden Knights best Calgary Flames in battle of Pacific Divison rivals

Noah Strang
NHL: Calgary Flames at Vegas Golden Knights
Dec 5, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights players congratulate Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Robin Lehner (90) after the Golden Knights defeated the Calgary Flames 3-2 at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights played one of their most complete games yet and held off the red hot Calgary Flames. This was a statement win for a Golden Knights team that is starting to put the league on notice with their strong play. If anyone forgot about this team during their injury-induced struggles, they’ve surely taken notice once again.

The Golden Knights managed to jump out to a two-goal lead thanks to goals from Max Pacioretty and Nicolas Roy. They played a very solid structure of hockey as they limited the Flames from getting anything that resembled a scoring chance throughout the first part of the game.

While the Flames managed to get a pair of goals in the third period that made this one interesting, the Golden Knights ultimately proved to be much too much. Evgenii Dadonov ended up with the winner in this one as he extended the lead in the third period.

This was a battle between two of the best teams in the league and things eventually got chippy as tensions boiled over.

“We won’t back down from anything, that’s for sure,” said Nic Hague after the match.

Golden Knights dominate depth battle

This was a great test for the Golden Knights as the Flames are not only atop the standings, but they’re also one of the hottest teams in the league as they’d won 8 of their last 10 entering Sunday night. The Golden Knights consider themselves on the same level, but they haven’t been able to reach that level on the standings due to an early season slump.

Despite that gap in the standings, the Golden Knights proved tonight that no one should forget about them in the Stanley Cup contenders category. Their players are starting to return from injury — William Karlsson returned tonight —and they still have Jack Eichel waiting.

The line of Keegan Kolesar, William Carrier, and Michael Amadio was one of the largest reasons the Golden Knights won Sunday as their depth shown. That line dominated play at 5-on-5 to the tune of an expected goals % of 97.9 and five scoring chances for against only two against.

Max Pacioretty can’t stop scoring for Golden Knights

NHL: Calgary Flames at Vegas Golden Knights
Dec 5, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) celebrates along his bench after scoring a first period goal against the Calgary Flames at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Ever since Max Pacioretty returned from injury, he’s been on fire. He scored the first goal of the game Sunday night, his sixth of the season, and was crucial to this victory. He’s now scored six goals in seven games this season and has shown that his name still belongs alongside the best snipers in the NHL.

He’s still playing alongside Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone as the trio forms one of the best top lines in the conference. Pacioretty is one of the more established players on the team but has never been able to get over the hump with any team and he and Stone help make up for Stephenson’s few weaknesses.

Golden Knights stymie flames’ attack

The Golden Knights played one of their better defensive games of the season, shutting down the Flames balanced offensive attack. Entering tonight, the Flames had a top-ten offense in terms of goals per game. They are led by breakout star Andrew Mangiapane who has had a great season at the age of 25.

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However, the Golden Knights did a great job tonight of shutting that down as they played really solid defensively. The Flames were unable to test Robin Lehner and had zero high-danger scoring chances through the first forty minutes of the game.

This was only the second time that the Flames have been held scoreless through two periods this season. While the Flames did manage to score twice in the third period, the Golden Knights defense was their Achilles’ heel.

The Golden Knights play their next game on Wednesday against the Dallas Stars. The puck drops for that game at 7 PM Pacific time as the Golden Knights host at T-Mobile Arena.