Golden Knights’ Resilient Offense Earns Win Against Canucks

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their 15th win of the season after beating the Vancouver Canucks 5-4 in what was a wild back-and-forth contest between two Pacific Division teams in drastically different positions to start the season.

After starting the season with seven straight losses, the Canucks have dug themselves out of last place in the Pacific Division and have put together a 6-4-1 record since. A large part of their recent success has come from the offensive production of Bo Horvat, who has 20 points in 19 games and sits second in the NHL in goals with 15. The Golden Knights have performed extremely well against the Canucks in the past, putting together an 11-1-2 record since joining the NHL in the 2017 Expansion with a plus-12 goal differential.

As a side note, yet another major milestone came for a Vegas player in this game, as Jonathan Marchessault played in his 500th career NHL game. 376 of those games came in his six seasons with the Golden Knights, recording 305 points since joining the team.

Golden Knights’ Resilient Offense

Andrei Kuzmenko’s opening goal for the Canucks was just the seventh time this season that an opposing team has scored first against the Golden Knights, putting them in a position of desperation that followed them until the final moments of the game.

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After an incredible sequence of shifts from Jack Eichel in the late stages of the second period, the Golden Knights found themselves up 2-1 at the end of the second period and started to find their groove at both ends of the ice. Then it all fell apart.

While multiple goals the Golden Knights gave up came from lucky deflections off of their own players, there were still some structural issues that came from their zone defense that had been exposed in the third period of this game, which led to three consecutive goals against.

The Canucks were able to crowd the front of the net extremely well, causing the Vegas defenders to leave their assignments, giving Logan Thompson no view of the puck whenever Vancouver was shooting from distance. While the Golden Knights’ defensive play under Bruce Cassidy has been a major factor in their success so far, there clearly needs to be some adjustments to account for the different offensive strategies they may face for the remainder of the season.

Logan Thompson Vegas Golden Knights
Logan Thompson, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHL via Getty Images)

After being down 4-2, the Golden Knights were able to develop a strong forecheck and drive bodies to the net rather than resorting to shots from distance as they did early on. Their ability to find different ways to generate dangerous offensive chances made up for their lack of adjustments in their own end.

Even when it seemed like the Golden Knights had completed the comeback the first time, the go-ahead goal from Mark Stone was called off after a lengthy review determined that the play should have been whistled down due to a camera lens being knocked on to the ice surface. This moment was pivotal, considering that the momentum was swinging in the favor of the Golden Knights at this point, and this break in the play could have been a major reset for the Canucks. However, they were able to maintain their offensive pressure and get the job done.

While Cassidy may not be happy with the way they played in their own end, there’s no doubt he’ll be happy with the way his team was able to find a way to win when they were seemingly down and out. Sometimes in the NHL the best defense, is an even better offense, and the Golden Knights proved that in this game.

Golden Knights Scoring by Committee

The Golden Knights had five different players with multiple points in this game, which makes it nearly impossible to pick out just one player who stood out, which is a good problem to have in a comeback effort. Eichel continues to dominate in his first full season with the team, picking up two points in this contest, making it his seventh game with multiple points this year. He had primary assists on both the game-tying goal and the go-ahead goal just one minute apart from each other late in the second period, with both being deflected from his shots through traffic.

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William Carrier had two of the most pivotal goals in this game, being on the receiving end of one of Eichel’s wrist shots, which bounced off of him and tied the game 2-2, as well as the Golden Knights’ third goal which gave them life after giving up the previous three. He shifted up and down the lineup and was integral in establishing the team’s forecheck multiple times throughout the night.

Alex Pietrangelo also had an incredible performance in this game, picking up three points and scoring the eventual game-winning goal with just six minutes remaining in the third period. In his first 889 games of his career, he’s only had 10 games where he recorded three or more points, and in his last 10 games, he has had four.

Unlike many defensemen in the NHL a lot of his points this season have come at even strength, which comes from his willingness to find open space in dangerous areas when he doesn’t have the puck, which was evident in his goal in this game. Stone, Marchessault, Alec Martinez, Reilly Smith, and Chandler Stephenson also made their way onto the scoresheet in this game and showed just how dangerous and deep the Golden Knights’ offense can be when they are firing on all cylinders.

Final Thoughts

After four lead changes, two successful coach’s challenges, and a few missed empty nets, the Golden Knights still managed to get the win and earn three of a possible four points in their short road trip to Western Canada. Playing in desperate situations like they were in this game brings the absolute best out of everyone. While coming back from two-goal deficits in the third period is not always sustainable, this game proved that this group has the character to forget about past mistakes and stay competitive in the moment.

The Golden Knights will now head back to T-Mobile arena for a three-game homestand beginning Wednesday against the Ottawa Senators, and will later get a rematch against the Canucks on Saturday.

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