I’m in Las Vegas covering the Colorado-Golden Knights game on a Friday afternoon in Vegas. Could anything be better?
The first bit of news was that J.T. Compher was going to get the first shot at playing on the first line with Mikko Rantanen out of action for a while. Compher played alongside Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog Friday.
If you have never been to a Vegas home game, I suggest you go. The Golden Knights put on quite a show!
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COLORADO 6 VEGAS 1
Well it didn’t take long for Pierre-Edouard Bellemare to strike against his old teammates as he gathered in a poor pass attempt from Mark Stone and scored just 28 seconds into his return to the T-Mobile Arena. Bellemare played for the Golden Knights in their first two seasons before leaving as a UFA. This was his first game back and he received a nice ovation when announced as the goal scorer.
It took the Golden Knights 8:05 until they were able to muster their first shot on goal after the Avs had already peppered Marc-Andre Fleury with seven.
Nazem Kadri missed on a breakaway from center ice on in less than a minute later and Mark Stone tried to get the Golden Knights going with a big hit in front of the Colorado bench on Compher, 11 minutes into the contest.
Fleury was outstanding in the first period, stopping numerous great scoring chances from the Avalanche as it easily could have been 4-0 by the 16:00 mark of the first.
There was a great tribute to Bellemare during the last break in the first period, followed by a standing ovation.
Karlsson tied the game at 1 with his second of the season as Cody Glass got out of the penalty box, worked hard to get the puck to Reilly Smith who fed a wide-open Karlsson and he wristed it into the far corner of the net. Glass didn’t get an assist as apparently the Colorado defender tipped the puck to Smith.
But Nazem Kadri got the lead back for the Avs with a wrist shot that eluded Fleury with just 47 seconds left to give the Avs a 2-1 lead heading into the second. The Avalanche outshot Vegas 15-6 as Fleury remained outstanding.
Philipp Grubauer was solid to start the second for Colorado as he stopped Pacioretty on a breakaway and then robbed Karlsson from in close less than five minutes into the period.
Cale Makar scored his first career goal (the first of many) as he ripped a shot past Fleury after a nice feed from Compher who is making a good case to stay on the top unit.
Kadri scored his second of the game and this one was on the power play as he beat Fleury on his glove side from 35 feet out to make it 4-1 for Colorado.
Coach Gerard Gallant decided to change goalies when the Golden Knights Brandon Perri took a penalty at the 12:36 mark of the second. Garret Sparks made his first appearance in a Golden Knights uniform after being called up earlier in the week. Fleury ended up stopping 22-of-26 shots.
Matt Calvert made it 5-1 with 4:10 left in the second as he rifled a snapper into the top corner to beat Sparks on his seventh shot.
The shots after two periods were 34-14 in favor of Colorado who have dominated the Golden Knights.
It was a pretty bland third period as the Avalanche shut it down offensively and played a strong defensive game. Grubauer made one great save on Pacioretty with over four minutes to go in the game but that was pretty much it. The Avalanche scored a shorthanded goal as Matt Calvert banked a shot from behind the net off Sparks and into the net.
The Avs right now have the best team in the NHL and the Golden Knights had a hard time keeping up with them as Colorado outshot them 41-25.
Grubauer made 25 saves in picking up his sixth win of the season to go with a loss and an overtime defeat. He has a 2.59 GAA and a .920 save percentage.
ARIZONA 5 NEW JERSEY 3
Jason Demers had three assists for the Coyotes.
Jack Hughes was in on all three goals with a goal and two assists, and all of a sudden the first overall pick has a three game scoring streak with five points including two goals. He had no points in his first six games.
Mackenzie Blackwood only faced 16 shots and gave up four goals in taking the loss.
Antti Raanta turned aside 32-of-35 shots and is 2-0-1 with a 2.62 GAA and a .922 save percentage.
Ekman-Larsson and Demers were each a plus-four.
TORONTO 4 SAN JOSE 1
Morgan Rielly scored the game winner with 5:29 left in the third to give the Leafs their first win in their last three games. Ilya Mikheyev with his fourth and Auston Matthews with his ninth, salted away the victory with two goals in the last minute of play.
Jake Muzzin potted his second goal of the season in the second period to tie the game at 1.
Frederik Anderson needed to make only 16 saves for the win as he is 6-2-1 this season with a 2.94 GAA and a .904 save percentage.
Martin Jones made 23 saves on 26 shots in taking the loss.
Mitch Marner had two assists.
Congratulations go out to Patrick Marleau who played in his 1,500 NHL game Friday night for the Sharks, becoming only the seventh player in history to accomplish the feat for one team. It was apropos that he did it with the only two teams he played for in the NHL.
BUFFALO 2 DETROIT 0
Linus Ullmark stoned the Detroit Red Wings as he stopped all 41 shots in a 2-0 win.
Ullmark is 3-1-1 this season and while his 2.56 GAA is just average, he has an outstanding save percentage of .932. Ullmark has faced over 40 shots on goal in three of his five starts and has made at least 40 saves in each one.
Jack Eichel assisted on both goals.
Victor Olofsson had an assist to give him two in his last five games. He has six goals and 10 points in 12 games this season.
Jimmy Howard stopped 23 shots in taking the loss.
Dylan Larkin led both teams with eight shots on goal.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS 4 OTTAWA 2
Nick Leddy had a pair of goals and an assist to lead the Islanders to a win over lowly Ottawa. Leddy originally was credited with a natural hat trick but upon further review, it was deemed to have gone off Matt Martin and into the net.
The Islanders got off to a 1-3 start but have won their last six to climb the standings and move into second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Thomas Greiss stopped 30-of-32 shots for the win. Anders Nilsson got the start for Ottawa and was pulled when Brassard made it 4-1. Nilsson made only 12 saves while Craig Anderson made all eight saves in 31:30 of action.
Nick Paul had five hits.
WASHINGTON 6 VANCOUVER 5 (Overtime)
Washington capped a furious comeback with Nicklas Backstrom’s shootout winner as they defeated the Vancouver Canucks 6-5.
The Capitals were down 5-1 when Evgeny Kuznetsov scored his second of the game with one second left in the second period to cue the comeback.
Bo Horvat had a pair of assists.
Ilya Samsonov stopped 29-of-34 to pick up his fourth win of the season.
Jacob Markstrom gave up five goals on 29 shots to take the shootout loss.
Alex Ovechkin was held pointless.
Kuznetsov had seven shots on goal.
Alexander Edler had five blocked shots.
Nazem Kadri – 2
Tim Schaller - 2
Nick Leddy – 2
Matt Calvert – 2
Tyler Ennis – 2
Evgeny Kuznetsov – 2
Jason Demers – 3
Jack Hughes - 2
Nathan MacKinnon – 2
Mitch Marner – 2
Bo Horvat - 2
Jack Eichel – 2
SHOTS ON GOAL
Dylan Larkin - 8
Auston Matthews - 6
Wayne Simmonds – 5
Anthony Duclair – 5
Colin Miller – 5
Evan Rodrigues – 5
Garnet Hathaway - 6
Ryan Reaves – 5
Ilya Lyubushkin – 5
Nick Paul - 5
Mark Borowiecki – 14
Cal Clutterbuck – 14
Casey Cizikas – 5
Brady Tkachuk - 5