The Vegas Golden Knights completed a 3-game season sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, scoring a club-record four unanswered goals in the third period to rally for a 5-2 triumph at T-Mobile Arena.
For the Hawks, the setback ended a forgettable weekend and may be the final dagger to halt Chicago’s tenure as the NHL’s Team of the Decade.
Since capturing their first of three Stanley Cup championships in 2010, the Blackhawks survived the salary cap era with some incredible marks, including a 30-game unbeaten streak (24-0-6; including 18 on the road) in 2012-13, posting 100 or more standings points in seven of the past nine season,.
However, coupled with Monday’s disastrous 6-1 humiliation in Arizona, the 31st and last ranked club in the NHL, then blowing a third-period lead to the Knights (which went from -210 to as high as -250 backed by a ton of local money),
Chicago has now lost seven straight and is now 2-9-2 over its last 11 contests, occupying the cellar in the Central Division.
Vegas’ rally kept the Knights on top of the Western Conference.
Erik Haula was a late scratch due to the flu, so Brendan Leipsic, who was going to be a healthy scratch, returned to the ice. Then the line temporarily lost James Neal late in the first period after taking a puck off the knee.
The Knights finally got their offense in gear in the third.
Brad Hunt tied it just 74 seconds in, then Reilly Smith scored on a 4-on-4 less than two minutes later.
Neal later returned, hustling on a back check to poke the puck free for a David Perron break along the right wing for a 4-2 lead for cap a 3-goal outburst over a 3:30span. Tomas Nosek added an empty net goal.
Vegas (37-15-4) continues its 7-game homestand on Thursday against Edmonton, then alternating days off with a game with Montreal, Anaheim, Calgary and Vancouver.