Vegas Golden Knights lose first game
October 14, 2017 7:37 AM
by Mark Mayer
For 40 minutes chances appeared fairly good that the Golden Knights would become the first NHL expansion team to start 3-0 would become 4-0 and the only unbeaten team in the league.
Then the third period started and Vegas finally looked the part of a newbie, allowing four unanswered goals as Detroit rallied for a 6-3 victory before another sellout crowd of nearly 18,000 at T-Mobile Arena.
Vegas had the opportunity to stand alone when New Jersey suffered its first defeat earlier Friday night to Washington. But it was the 11-time Stanley Cup champion Red Wings who delighted their strong fan base by winning for the third time on the road to improve to a surprising 4-1 in a season that was thought to be one of rebuilding.
Hockeytown looked as solid as ever and it was one of their all-time greats who led the charge. Henrik Zetterberg, the No. 7 scorer in Red Wings history produced a goal and two assists as Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury allowed more goals in Game 4 than he had in the first three combined.
Gustav Nyquist scored twice for the Wings who were not hurt at all playing back to back nights, coming to Vegas off a 4-2 win at Anaheim. Detroit missed the playoffs last year for the first time in 25 years.
Vegas led 3-2 after two periods as James Neal registered his team high sixth goal, but that third period was one of defensive breakdowns and an off-line Fleury, who was involved in a vicious collision late in the second period with 6-foot-5 center Anthony Mantha, who had one of Detroit’s six goals.
Petr Mrazek, subbing for No. 1 goalie Jimmy Howard, made 24 saves. Fleury had 21 stops for Vegas but led four go past him in the final 20 minutes and clearly wasn’t the same after being rolled over by Mantha in front of the net.
After killing a penalty early in the third, Frans Nielsen and Zetterberg worked a 2-on-1 to perfection, ending with Nielsen poking what ended up being the winning goal past Fleury to make it 4-3.
Less than four minutes later, Nyquist jabbed in a loose puck after Fleury made a save on Mantha. Luke Glendening's goal with 5:04 left finished the scoring.
It marked the first time Fleury allowed six goals since Jan. 14, while he was with the Pittsburgh Penguins and also against the Red Wings.
The Wings tied it early in the third when Mantha snagged a loose puck headed toward the point, spun around and shot it past Fleury.
Erik Haula's tip off Luca Sbisa slipped past Mrazek to give the Knights a 3-2 lead late in the second period.
The Red Wings outshot Vegas 27-26, including 12-6 in the third period.
Neal had joined Real Cloutier of the Quebec Nordiques as the only players in the expansion era to score five or more goals in an expansion team's first three games.
The Golden Knights also continued to struggle to capitalize on power-play opportunities, going 0 for 3. They're 1 for 17 in such situations.
Vegas returns to home ice this Sunday for a 4 p.m. matinee game against the Boston Bruins.
Encore: Fleury became the 27th goaltender in league history to reach 40,000 minutes.