Vegas Golden Knights continue to amaze
December 20, 2017 11:02 AM
by Nick Pellegrino
The Vegas Golden Knights continue to amaze; they don't seem to get phased by anything.
On Tuesday, after watching the Tampa Bay Lightning -- the No. 1 team in hockey -- roll to an early lead on a pair of power play goals, the Knights simply repeated the lesson plan.
Capped by a slap shot goal by defenseman Shea Theodore with 2.3 seconds remaining, the Knights rattled the cage with a franchise-record four goals with the man advantage to shock the Lightning, 4-3, at T-Mobile Arena.
While the powerful Bolts saw their season-best 7-game win streak halted, the Knights are now 7-0-1 in their last eight since Dec. 1, again grabbing a share of the Pacific Division lead with the idle Los Angeles Kings.
"When we're playing our game, we're a fast team and we can skate with any team in the league," said Theodore. "When we do those things right, we're a really good team."
How good? With 46 points, Vegas is now tied with L.A. Nashville and St. Louis with the second-highest point total in the NHL. Theodore learned his new-found slap shot from former Edmonton Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins, who fixed the 22-year-old British Columbia native while with the Anaheim Ducks farm club in San Diego.
Unleashed with Vegas following the expansion draft, Theodore had recorded just a single goal in 17 outings since joining the big club until registering one of the most important goals in the young history of the Knights to topple Tampa.
"I thought things were clicking -- we finally got our power playing going," said Theodore, who capped a 4-point outing with his game-winning goal. "We played them well 5-on-5., so we stuck to our game plan and finished strong."
Steven Stamkos, a two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner and the leading goal-scorer in Tampa Bay history, demonstrated his ferocious slap shot in the first period. Accepting a cross-ice pass, he drilling the puck out the goal post and in to opening the scoring. It was his 13th goal of the season; the ninth while the team was a man up.
And when Vladuslav Namestnikov added a power play goal -- his 14th of the season -- to make it 2-0 through the first period, not many would have complained had the Knights called it a night against the Atlantic Division frontrunners.
Instead, Vegas proved why they too are a division leader.
James Neal, Johnathan Marchessault and Erik Haula also scored on the power play, all assisted by Theodore and LW David Perron, helping Vegas go 4-for-5 with the man advantage.
"Obviously, there was a special team on each side -- we're pretty good (too)," said Perron. "This was definitely our biggest game of the year so far against the best team in the league."
"We really responded, even after the adversary of their third goal. But Theo kept his legs going and got the goal; he played a great game."
Tied at 2-all entering the third period, Haula tipped in a Theodore shot for the first Vegas lead of the contest.
The Lightning got even on a Victor Hedman shot which hit a defenseman and bounced in with 3:52 remaining. Then on a power play in the closing seconds, a scrum in the left-wing corner saw Marchessault win the battle for the puck and moving it to Haula at the blue line. Haula sent a short cross-ice pass to Theodore for a one-timer past Tampa Bay goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy.
"Obviously, [Vegas is] a good team. We've done some video and have watched a few games of theirs, and they're holding their own a bit right now," said Bolts defenseman Jake Dotchin.
Vegas is now 14-2-1 at home, tying them with Washington and the N.Y. Rangers for most home-ice victories this season. Tampa Bay dropped to 14-2-0 against Western Conference clubs.
Knights Knotes: Marchessault, playing against his old club, finished with a goal and an assist. In his last 14 games, he has 19 points (7 G, 12 A)... Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made 35 saves to move to 2-0-1 since his return from a concussion, while Haula has a 7-game point streak... Vegas recalled forward Tomas Hyka from Chicago of the American Hockey League on Monday … D Luca Sbisa was placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.