The Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Minnesota Wild 6-4 on Sunday night as they got back to their winning ways. It was a big victory at home for the Golden Knights who had an explosion of offense after being relatively quiet in recent matchups.
The Wild are a strong defensive team yet the Golden Knights still managed to score five times on a goalie tonight, finally getting scoring from different places in the lineup. When they get goals from their defensemen or their bottom-six forward they have one of the most dangerous and balanced attacks in the NHL.
Robin Lehner got the start in net tonight and struggled at times. He made one especially bad error in the third period where he turned a harmless chance into a goal against and this was overall a performance that he would most likely want to move past. He seems to be in line to start against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday where he will get that chance to avenge his play tonight. Despite the tough performance, his teammates still supported him postgame.
“We’re always there to back him and he’s always there to back us. That’s just who Lenny [Robin Lehner] is, a guy you want on your team,” said center Chandler Stephenson after the game.
The Wild and Golden Knights met in last year’s playoffs and the series went the distance, lasting all seven games. Some of those hard feelings are clearly still very present as this game got chippy and there were plenty of penalties called, as well as many non-policed scraps.
Golden Knights special teams rebound in a big way
Over the past few games, the Golden Knights special teams have been letting them down. Sometimes it was a lack of finish on the power play while other times it was a permissive penalty kill, but their lackluster special teams have been costing them points in the standings.
Coach Peter DeBoer even outlined special teams as something that the team needed to get better at after it was clearly one of the major reasons that they lost against the Philadelphia Flyers the other night. It seems as if his message stuck as tonight the Golden Knights did a much better job.
They converted twice on the power play, including a crucial third period goal by captain Mark Stone, and they also did a very solid job on the penalty kill as they only allowed one goal despite being shorthanded many times. Better discipline will help in this regard in the future.
Golden Knights display resilience after blown leads
The Golden Knights had many one-goal leads in this game but the Wild continued to fight and tied it back up multiple times. While this can be disheartening for many teams, the Golden Knights showed a great level of resiliency as they continued to fight and continued to push.
One especially bad gaffe came in the third period when Robin Lehner reached out to make a save on a shot that was clearly going wide. He would redirect the puck back towards the net where it was eventually found by Wild forward Marcus Foligno who scored to tie the game at four. Despite this terrible mistake, the Golden Knights continued to fight and found another goal shortly after.
Resilience has been one of the team’s biggest strengths all year and it was once again tonight. That’s a great skill for any team to have and is crucial to finding postseason success. There was an emotional moment postgame where Stephenson shared that he recently lost his grandmother. He had the first four-point game of his career Sunday night.
Golden Knights superstars keep them alive
One of the most underrated maneuvers the Golden Knights have managed to pull off over their short history has been their ability to acquire star talent. Considering that after the expansion draft they were long on depth but short on high-end talent, it’s amazing to see their current roster with all the big names at the top.
Tonight Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty were all over the ice and had a contribution in most of the Golden Knights goals. Pacioretty scored again to keep up his goal-per-game pace and Stone was his usual magnificent self as he picked up multiple assists as well as a third-period power play goal..
It’s a scary thought as to what the top line will look like when Jack Eichel returns. If the three can find some chemistry quickly, they have the potential to be the most devastating trio in the league. Considering they are already in that conversation with Chandler Stepheson, the Golden Knights have to be excited about the potential dominant top line.
The Golden Knights play their next game on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins. The puck drops for that game at 4 PM Pacific Time as it will be a road matchup for the Golden Knights.