Hometown hero returns to topple Golden Knights
March 17, 2018 8:53 AM
by Nick Pellegrino
Although this theorem applies more toward Fantasy Hockey rather than the regular bettor, for the second time in a week, an individual skater with great motivation was the difference in deciding the outcome of a Vegas Golden Knights contest.
Earlier this week in Philadelphia, it was former Flyers forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare who made the key play in the final minutes, leading to Vegas' game-winning goal.
On Friday, Las Vegas resident Jason Zucker, who grew up never thinking he would get an opportunity to play here, took advantage of his first chance skating at T-Mobile Arena. Zucker tallied the game-winning goal and added an assist to fuel the Minnesota Wild to a 4-2 triumph over the Knights.
With the victory, the Wild swept the 3-game season series, handing Vegas its fourth straight home-ice setback.
One reason for the Golden Knights success is for individuals to "get back" at their former team for allowing them to be available for the expansion draft – people don't enjoy being known as expendable.
Well, that logic is a two-way street. Although this wasn't quite the same situation, Fantasy players who activated Zucker were pleased with the results, along with his friends and family, including his wife and children.
Zucker opened the scoring with his 29th goal in the first period. In the second period, Zucker assisted on a Matt Dumba goal as the Wild mounted a 3-0 cushion. Alex Stalock stopped 26 shots.
For the Knights, Erik Haula and Ryan Carpenter scored, while Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves, but fell to 2-8-0 lifetime against the Wild.
Luckily, there is good news for Vegas. James Neal (hand) returned to the lineup after missing eight contests, while reserve goalie Malcolm Subban (11-3-1, 2.59 GAA) was activated from the injured reserve list and is penciled to start Sunday afternoon against Calgary.
Looking forward, Minnesota, a potential first-round playoff opponent, moved into third place in the Central Division. Should the Wild remain in third or move up to second, they would probably meet Winnipeg and not the Knights.
Vegas (45-21-5, 95 points) saw its lead fall to eight points over San Jose, (39-23-9, 87) which beat Calgary, 7-4. Both sides have 11 games remaining, leaving the Knights' magic number sit at 15 points to clinch the Pacific Division crown.
Encore: Forward Tomas Hyka and goaltender Maxime Lagace were sent to the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves. Hyka has appeared in 10 games for the Golden Knights and recorded three points (1 G, 2 A). Lagace has appeared in 16 games for the Golden Knights and has sported a 6-7-1 record to go with a 3.91 goals-against average and a .867 save percentage.