The Golden Knights rediscovered their work ethic. Or maybe they cut a deal with an energy drink company.
Regardless, the Knights upped their effort considerably and save for a couple of defensive gaffes, they played well, snapping their two-game losing streak Saturday with a 6-2 win over the Calgary Flames before 18,192 at T-Mobile Arena.
“I liked everything about the game,” said Knights coach Gerard Gallant. “It just wasn’t a high-flying game. There weren’t any two-on-ones or breakaways.
“What I liked about it was that it was a solid game. We chipped pucks up the boards and got it out of our zone. There wasn’t as many mistakes as there were in the last couple games. Just a solid game, and the pucks went in.”
The Knights took full advantage of a shaky performance from Flames goaltender David Rittich who let in three soft goals and looked like he was trying to imitate San Jose goalie Martin Jones who tends to struggle against the Knights.
The shakeup of his lineup by Gallant paid off handsomely. He moved Paul Stastny back with Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty and Stone and Stastny both scored second period goals as Vegas rallied from a 2-1 deficit to lead 4-2 after two periods.
Cody Eakin made his season debut as he returned to center the third line. Cody Glass, who had been centering for Pacioretty and Stone, moved over to right wing and played alongside Eakin and Valentin Zykov.
But it was the Knights’ fourth line that hurt Calgary the hardest. William Carrier, Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves all scored and the line had four points total as Carrier also picked up an assist for his first multi-point game of his NHL career.
Carrier said it was all about everyone working harder.
“I thought the effort was better from everyone,” Carrier said. “When you get all four lines working the way we did (Saturday), it makes us a tough team to play against. And it felt good to see our line contribute to the win.”
After getting outworked Thursday in losing to Arizona, Vegas (3-2) played with much more resolve against a Calgary team which had won the division last year. They forechecked harder. They won the battles in the corners and behind the net.
“The forecheck was excellent and that’s what we talk about all the time when we have success, we are a good forechecking team,” Gallant said. “I thought tonight it was excellent. Obviously our fourth line was outstanding tonight.”
And when the Knights needed their goaltender to deliver, Marc-Andre Fleury was there. He finished with 33 saves, several of them of the acrobatic variety.
“Yeah it was huge,” Gallant said of Fleury’s play, particularly late in the second period when the Flames had a power play.” He made some real key saves and there was a big scramble around the net. The guys did a good job and helped out in front of the net and it was big.”
But the return of Eakin, the play of Glass, who scored the final goal, the offensive contributions from the fourth line and Fleury made for a successful night and gives Vegas some positive moments heading into Sunday’s game in Los Angeles against the Kings.
“We are looking forward to it, it’s going to be a tough game,” Gallant said. “LA had a real good game (Saturday), so they’ll be at a high (Sunday).”