Golden Knights now 6-1: No Knight-mare for Vegas
October 22, 2017 7:55 AM
by Nick Pellegrino
Facing hockey’s nightmare scenario in goal, somehow the Vegas Golden Knights continued an early-season run as the best expansion team in National Hockey League history.
Forced to go with their third-string, unproven goalie for the final nine minutes and overtime, Knights forward William Karlsson tallied the golden goal at 4:36 to trip Western Conference leading St. Louis, 3-2, at T-Mobile Arena.
With their NHL leading third overtime triumph of the young season, the Golden Knights (6-1-0) remain one point behind the Los Angeles Kings (6-0-1) for leadership in the Pacific Division. L.A. started an eastern swing with a 6-4 win in Columbus.
Called off the bench with 9:50 remaining for his first NHL appearance, Oscar Dansk of Sweden allowed a goal on the first shot he faced -- not what one dreams about when making your NHL debut.
However, Dansk turned away the next 10 shots before Karlsson took a pass from Reilly Smith to beat Blues goalie Jake Allen on a 2-in-1 break moments after Dansk barely made a stop on a St. Louis odd-man rush.
“I just tried to think about the next puck -- the next shot --and make the save to get myself into the game,” said Dansk. “You can’t dream about things like this, you just need to be ready to play and battle for the team as good as you can.”
Dansk, who was just recalled from the AHL Chicago Wolves after Vegas starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury suffered a concussion, came in for Malcolm Subban, who suffered an apparent hamstring injury by rotating from post-to-post to allude a St. Louis scoring challenge.
“They played our game; they were first on the puck in both zones,” said Vegas coach Gerard Gallant. “But we found a way. Our goaltenders were the difference tonight.”
In the extra period, Vegas’ Brendan Leipsic missed on a breakaway, then St. Louis failed on another 2-on-1 rush before Karlsson registered his first NHL goal on a snap shot from the right hash marks.
Reilly Smith stole the puck at the Vegas line, skated to the Blues’ circle before sending a cross-ice pass to a wide open Karlsson, who delivered the puck to the top shelf.
“When you make that east-west pass, you make it harder on their goaltender,” added the coach.
Added Karlsson, “It was a great pass -- a great feed -- and I was able to finish.”
Vegas tallied a pair of power play goals four minutes apart in the second period to garb the lead. Smith scored his second goal of the season, then Colin Miller got his first NHL goal.
With Dansk coming in cold off the bench, Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo beat Dansk on a slap shot to knot the contest with 5:08 remaining.
For Pietrangelo, it was an NHL co-leading 11th point among defensemen this season, taking advantage of additional scoring opportunities since the departure of Kevin Shattenkirk.
Moments later, St. Louis turned a center-ice turnover into a 2-on-1 rush. However, Dansk barely got a piece on the shot and the rebound to keep Vegas in the game. There was also a critical video review ruled no goal against Subban when the “war room” in Toronto could not see if the puck went over the Vegas goal line.
As for Subban, Knights officials were mum on the injury. It was a disappointing result for Subban, who failed to play a full 60 minutes in his NHL debut, which also came against St. Louis in February 2015.
Dansk, 23, has spent most of his pro career in the Swedish Elite League. His only other appearance this season was with the Wolves, allowing six goals over 65 minutes in a shootout win.
Magnus Paajarvi scored on a wrap-around for a 1-0 Blues lead as St. Louis dominated the first period.
“St. Louis had a lot of opportunities,” added Gallant. “I looked at the shot total and it was 28-6, but I didn’t think we were playing that bad. St. Louis was quicker than us tonight, but Subbie was really solid and kept us in it.”
Knights knews: Chicago and Colorado will complete the 7-game homestand before VGK heads for the east coast... GM George McPhee was watched grabbing the phone when Subban went down, obviously contacting the Wolves to discuss the goaltending future for both franchises (and maybe the ECHL, too).