Knights climb out of hole to stay undefeated

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It’s early in the season, but a disturbing trend is starting to develop with the Vegas Golden Knights.

They are playing catch-up and that’s a dangerous way to try and win in the NHL. 

Monday, the Knights spotted Arizona a 2-0 lead before responding with three unanswered tallies to take the lead and go on to a 4-2 win at T-Mobile Arena to stay undefeated at 3-0.

Two nights earlier, Vegas trailed Anaheim 1-0 before rallying to catch the Ducks late and ultimately win in overtime. Coach Peter DeBoer admitted it’s not the ideal way to play but he’ll take the result.

“We have a veteran team that has a lot of confidence to win games,” DeBoer said. “You’re not going to be at your best every night and that was the case tonight. We were playing just well enough to hang around. But we dug down in the third and found a way.

“It wasn’t pretty, but any win in this league is a good win so we’ll take it.”

Goals by Max Pacioretty in the second period and Reilly Smith and Chandler Stevenson in the third got the Knights out of the hole they had dug for themselves after the Coyotes’ Tyler Pitlick and Nick Schmaltz had staked them to the lead. Robin Lehner, who was in net Monday, had made some big stops to keep the deficit at 2-0 before his teammates got things going offensively. 

And in the end, with Arizona on a 6-on-4 advantage with Jonathan Marchessault sitting in the penalty box for slashing, Lehner stopped everything and Smith hit the empty net from deep in his own end to seal the win.

“It’s all about guys working hard and talking to each other,” Smith said of playing a man or two down and finding a path to victory.  

For the first time this season, the Knights played with six defensemen as center Cody Glass was moved to the taxi squad and Nic Hague was in the lineup. The move was strictly salary cap related. The Knights don’t have the space to play both, so Glass, who is waiver exempt, was optioned. Forward Keegan Kolesar, who would have to clear waivers, remains in the lineup as the Knights appear not willing to risk losing him to a claim.

“It was great to be back in the lineup and try and contribute,” Hague said.

It wasn’t the cleanest of performances for the Knights. But one bright spot was Pacioretty. His goal cut the deficit to 2-1 and he has scored in each of the team’s first three games. The team record for goals in consecutive games is four by James Neal in the inaugural season of 2017-18. Pacioretty will get the chance to equal that come Wednesday when these two teams meet again at T-Mobile in what is the second of a four-game home-and-home series in the West Division.

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“I think we have to come out with a better start and not chase games and have to steal them in the third period,” Smith said. 

Stevenson, whose goal proved to be the game-winner, said there’s a never-quit attitude with the team.

“One of the qualities this team has is this team is never out of it,” Stevenson said. “It’s early, so we’ll work some things out.

About the Author

Steve Carp

Steve Carp is a six-time Nevada Sportswriter of the Year. A 30-year veteran of the Las Vegas sports journalism scene, he covered the Vegas Golden Knights for the Las Vegas Review-Journal from 2015-2018.

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