Quick’s Late Game Heroics Seals Win for Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights managed to get their third straight win in a nail-biting 3-2 finish against the Calgary Flames on Thursday night, extending their lead in the Pacific Division to four points and surpassing the Seattle Kraken for the third-best road record in the NHL.

The Golden Knights have put together the best record in the NHL during the month of March, going 10-2-0 while taking down some of the best teams in the league in the process. A lot of their recent success can be attributed to the resurgence of veteran goaltender Jonathan Quick, who has gone 5-1-0 with a .908 save percentage (SV%) since being acquired by the Golden Knights at the trade deadline.

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With the strength of their roster, they’ve never really needed stellar goaltending to put themselves in a position to win, but Quick has proven to be extremely valuable to the Golden Knights as they continue to deal with injuries to their goaltenders. Logan Thompson started in this game for the first time since Feb. 9, 2023, and having Quick playing as well as he has made it very easy for Thompson to take his time and not rush his recovery.

The Flames are currently four points behind the Winnipeg Jets for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference and have been uncharacteristically bad in the new year. Since Jan. 1, 2023, they have put together a 14-12-8 record, earning just one more point than the Arizona Coyotes in that same time frame, and just two more than the Chicago Blackhawks.

For a team with such high expectations following the blockbuster deal that sent Matthew Tkachuk to the Florida Panthers in exchange for Jonathan Huberdeau and MacKenzie Weegar, as well as signing recent Stanley Cup champion Nazem Kadri to a seven-year deal, things have not panned out the way they expected.

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While they looked to be a far more balanced roster despite the departure of Tkachuk as well as Johnny Gaudreau, their new acquisitions have struggled to replicate the offense they put together last season. Huberdeau has 48 points, and Kadri has 49, while Tkachuk is having an MVP-caliber season with the Panthers, sitting fourth in the league with 97 points.

Jonathan Quick Bails Out Logan Thompson

Thompson’s long-awaited return was spoiled with an injury suffered toward the end of the third period of this game. He stopped 37 of the 39 shots he faced but looked a little frantic between the pipes for a good portion of the contest, which is to be expected when a rookie is away from game action as long as he has been. The Flames had two goals disallowed, with one of them due to the net being slightly knocked off. This prompted him to leave his crease without anyone knowing, making for quite the shocking moment as he tried to stop the shot from the blue line.

Quick came into the game with just under six minutes to play and was thrown into the fire immediately, being forced to make a sequence of incredible saves to hold off the Flames’ pressing offense. He stopped all five shots he faced, including a vintage Quick moment where he stretched out his right pad to deny Flames forward Andrew Mangiapane of the game-tying goal with 1:03 left in the period.

Jonathan Quick Vegas Golden Knights
Jonathan Quick, Vegas Golden Knights (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)

Head coach Bruce Cassidy said postgame that he does not expect Thompson to be in the lineup on Saturday against the Edmonton Oilers, along with Reilly Smith, who only played one shift in the third period before leaving with an apparent lower-body injury after being hit awkwardly into the boards.

It’s unclear if the injury that Thompson suffered is related to the lower-body injury he sustained in Minnesota which sidelined him for six weeks, but it’s extremely concerning for the rookie goaltender to miss so much time when he’ll be looked to as the number one goaltender in the playoffs. While most coaches have the luxury of making decisions that determine who plays and who doesn’t, these continuous injuries give Cassidy no choice but to play whoever is available.

Final Thoughts

The Golden Knights had a really solid start to this game, with all of their forward lines being able to sustain pressure in the offensive zone and get dangerous chances at the front of the net with ease. The Flames played with a lot of urgency towards the end of the game with their playoff hopes on the line, but despite the close score, the Golden Knights controlled a lot of the offensive zone time.

They’ve managed to come out on the winning end of a lot of playoff-style games as of late, with six of their last 12 wins coming within one goal. This is just another aspect of their game that seems to be coming together at the right time, with there being just 10 regular season games remaining. While the injuries piling up continues to be a concern for the Golden Knights, they’ve faced this adversity before and should be prepared for what challenges they may face moving forward.

The Golden Knights will get the day off on Friday before wrapping up their road trip to Western Canada on Saturday against Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, who they will take on in back-to-back games, with the second being at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas next Tuesday, March 28.

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