The Golden Knights, when they needed one last burst of energy to close out Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, got it from two of their key players.
Goaltender Jonathan Quick made a save on four-time 20-goal scorer Brock Boeser with 35 seconds remaining to preserve a 4-3 lead. Center Jack Eichel pressured defenseman Quinn Hughes into a hooking call 12 seconds later to kill the Canucks’ hopes.
It was an impressive finish to a difficult third period for the Knights, who were outshot 16-4 and almost lost a two-goal advantage. But, like they’ve done so often the past two months, they ended the game when they had a chance.
The Knights’ 4-3 win at Rogers Arena was their sixth in seven games and fifth straight on the road. Their 15-3-2 record since the All-Star break is the second-best in the NHL.
“It wasn’t our best period, but we dug in defensively and (Quick) made some big saves,” center Teddy Blueger said. “Found a way to get it done. It wasn’t pretty. Sometimes, you need that.”
The Knights gave themselves a cushion because their first period was the opposite of the third.
Their forecheck was all over the Canucks. Right wing Phil Kessel stole a puck from defenseman Ethan Bear and scored his second goal in two games 3:01 into the game. Center William Karlsson picked off another puck in the offensive zone and set up left wing Reilly Smith for a one-timer that made the score 2-0 with 7:49 left in the first.
Vancouver fought back in the second.
Center J.T. Miller scored on a penalty shot 7:57 in after defenseman Shea Theodore hooked him on a short-handed breakaway. Blueger restored the Knights’ two-goal lead 2:25 later with his second goal with the team, matching his total with his previous team, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Miller cut the Canucks’ deficit to 3-2 with 7:18 left in the second after three penalties called in 19 seconds gave Vancouver a four-on-three power play. Rookie right wing Pavel Dorofeyev gave the Knights breathing room again by deflecting a shot from defenseman Alex Pietrangelo 2:41 before the second intermission.
The Canucks, despite being down 4-2, kept fighting in the third.
Left wing Phillip Di Giuseppe brought his team within one on a rebound chance with 8:17 remaining. Vancouver kept pushing after that. It spent much of the period in the offensive zone but never found an equalizer.
Instead, Quick and Eichel made two key plays to win it. Their efforts helped the Knights win their 22nd road game, tied for the most in franchise history.
”Cleary we were the better team early,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Clearly they were the better team late. In between, we did enough to win.”
Here are three takeaways from the win:
1. Quick moves up record book
Goaltender Jonathan Quick became the first Knights goaltender to give up a goal on a penalty shot. He still improved to 5-1 with his new team by making 32 saves against the Canucks.
Quick’s win was his 375th, breaking his tie with John Vanbiesbrouck for the second-most by an American in NHL history. Only Ryan Miller has more with 391.
”He’s played awesome every game he’s been in,” Blueger said. “His calmness and composure kind of resonates throughout the team, even just on the bench.”
2. Smith’s streak surges on
Smith’s goal extended his career-best point streak to nine games, which matches Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone and Alex Tuch for the longest in Knights history.
Smith has four goals and seven assists in his streak. Karlsson has seven points in that same span, and Dorofeyev has four goals and two assists since being called up five games ago.
“(Smith is) very consistent,” Karlsson told AT&T SportsNet. “He’s so easy to play with. And he’s good at finding spots to shoot pucks and score.”
3. Injury updates
The Knights had a familiar face back on their bench. Goaltender Logan Thompson was activated off injured reserve and dressed for the first time since getting hurt Feb. 9 in Minnesota.
Two other players also took steps toward a return earlier in the day.
Center Nicolas Roy, who has missed 14 straight games with a lower-body injury, was a full participant in the morning skate. Right wing Keegan Kolesar practiced in a red no-contact jersey before sitting out his fifth consecutive game with an upper-body injury.
“Obviously, those are great players for us,” right wing Jonathan Marchessault said Tuesday morning. “It gives us a little boost knowing they’re right around the corner.”
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