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Massive second period powers Vegas Golden Knights to victory over Detroit Red Wings

Noah Strang
NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Vegas Golden Knights
Nov 18, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Cotter (43) celebrates with defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (7) and defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) and center Brett Howden (21) after scoring a second period goal against the Detroit Red Wings at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights rode four second-period goals to a 5-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings Thursday evening. The first three goals of the game for the Golden Knights were all scored by defensemen with one coming from Nicolas Hague and two more from Zach Whitecloud. Paul Cotter would score a highlight-reel goal before the period was done, giving the Golden Knights a 4-1 lead entering the second intermission that they would never relinquish.

The Vegas Golden Knights are now sporting a record of 4-1-0 through this homestand with one game against the Columbus Blue Jackets remaining. It’s been evidence of the great atmosphere inside T-Mobile Arena. Recently, they’ve been playing their best hockey of the young season and are on a rocket ship up the standings, now within reach of the division title despite still missing a boatload of players due to injuries and COVID-19 protocol.

Robin Lehner got the start once again tonight. While he’s been playing great since the start of the season, it’s only in recent games that the Golden Knights have been giving him the goal support needed to win games. Now that those two things have lined up, the wins have started to arrive in bunches and Lehner deserves tons of credit for his rock solid play.

The Golden Knights chased Red Wings goalie Thomas Greiss after two periods as he was replaced by Alex Nedelijkovic. It didn’t take long for the Golden Knights to score on him either as Reilly Smith made it 5-1 with a nifty move. Overall, it was a great day for the Golden Knights offensively as they continued to put the puck in the back of the net, scoring 14 over their last three games.

Mark Stone is officially back for the Vegas Golden Knights

NHL: Detroit Red Wings at Vegas Golden Knights
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Mark Stone has played three games since returning from injury and he’s recorded a point in every single one, tonight’s coming on a beautiful pass in the second period to Zach Whitecloud for his first goal of the game. The Golden Knights are a different team when Stone is in the lineup and tonight that was more evident than ever as he helped them dominate play while he was on the ice.

When discussing his goal, Whitecloud made his strategy clear: “I saw Mark Stone with the puck, so I just got open.”.

Stone was named the first captain in franchise history for a reason as he is a true leader on and off the ice. There’s not many players in the league who play as complete a game as he does and he will represent Canada at the Olympic Games this spring because of that.

Tonight he had another great game as he helped the Golden Knights control play while he was on the ice. While he as playing at 5-on-5, the Golden Knights scored twice and outshot the Red Wings 10-8. He’s an integral part of this team and will form a devastating trio alongside Max Pacioretty and Jack Eichel.

Golden Knights young defensemen looking good

The Golden Knights young defensemen looked great tonight and gave the team hope that the position group will be solidified this year as well as into the future. Zach Whitecloud scored twice in the second period alone, matching his career goal total in a single period. Nicolas Hague opened the scoring for the Golden Knights and subsequently had one of the best celebrations of the season.

Hague and Whitecloud are both under twenty-five years old and figure to be large parts of this team’s future. Whitecloud recently signed an extension that will keep him in Vegas until the end of the 2027-28 season at a very reasonable cap hit of $2.75 million. Tonight was an exciting preview of a future where these two are both large presences on the Golden Knights blue line.

“This is the best place I’ve ever been in. It’s home to me.”, said Whitecloud, “To be here the next six years is something I’m incredibly grateful for.”

Tale of two seasons for the Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights year thus far has been a tale of two seasons. During the first part, their offence was lethargic as they tried to find a new identity while they were missing tons of players. Despite still only have a portion of their lineup available, it feels as if the Golden Knights have found a way to make it work as they’ve gone red-hot, beating opponents of a variety of strengths.

The Golden Knights have always prided themselves on their scoring depth but their injuries have forced those players up the line-up, leaving relatively unproven players to take their depth spots. Still, players like Cotter have stepped in and helped the team not miss a beat with great all-around play. That speaks to the organizational depth that the Golden Knights have.

“I didn’t learn how not to celebrate like an animal so maybe I can do that on my next one.” said Cotter after the game.

It’s a scary thought as to what this team will look like when fully healthy, especially if Jack Eichel comes back looking like his former self. While they will need to trade one of their top-six forwards or top-four defensemen for peanuts, the roster will still boast a combination of high-end talent and unmatched depth that will scare opposing teams league wide.

The Golden Knights play their next game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night. The puck drops for that game at 7 PM Pacific time.