The All-Star break is just around the corner and right now an expansion team is leading the league. With a decisive 5-1 victory on Sunday, Vegas improved to 31-11-4 and now has a one-point lead over Tampa Bay in the battle for the Presidents’ Trophy. Both teams have played in 46 games while the next best squad, Winnipeg, has 63 points in 48 contests.
The Golden Knights’ improbable strength this campaign has been an ongoing storyline, but they’ve gone from being really good to being arguably the best team in the NHL. Keep in mind that they’re a team without a superstar on the level of a Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Connor McDavid, or John Tavares.
Instead their offense is being led by Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and David Perron. Despite being given up by Pittsburgh, you could argue that Marc-Andre Fleury is a star goaltender, but due to injury he’s only played in 16 of Vegas’ 46 contests so Vegas’ success certainly hasn’t been centered around him even if he has been excellent when healthy.
The Golden Knights have managed to find ways to win thanks to depth, players rising to the occasion, and yes, also some strong goaltending. Meanwhile, Gerard Gallant deserves to be in the conversation for the Jack Adams Award for taking a group of castoffs from around the league and turning them into a force to be reckoned with.
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PHILADELPHIA 2 WASHINGTON 1 (OT)
Alex Ovechkin scored the Capitals’ lone goal, putting him just one marker away from 30. If he scores one more goal this season then he’d tie Wayne Gretzky’s run of 13 straight seasons of at least 30 goals to start his campaign. Mike Gartner holds the record with 15 consecutive campaigns.
Travis Konecny was the hero of this game though with his overtime winner. He has eight goals and 20 points in 47 contests.
Michael Raffl accounted for the Flyers’ other goal. It was his ninth goal and 16th point in 47 games.
Brian Elliott saved 27 of 28 shots in the afternoon contest. He has an 18-11-7 record, 2.79 GAA, and .908 save percentage in 37 contests.
Braden Holtby turned aside 21 of 23 Flyers shots. That leaves him with a 24-9-2 record, 2.68 GAA, and .916 save percentage in 35 starts.
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VEGAS 5 CAROLINA 1
Colin Miller scored the game-winning goal and registered two assists. The Golden Knights defenseman has six goals and 24 points in 46 contests this season.
James Neal extended his goal scoring streak to three games when he found the back of the net in the second period. He’s up to 21 goals and 32 points in 46 games.
Jaccob Slavin netted the Hurricanes’ only goal. It was his fourth marker and 13th point in 47 games.
Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 27 of 28 shots, making this the third straight game where he’s surrendered just one goal. He improved to 11-3-2 with a 1.68 GAA and .946 save percentage in 16 starts.
WINNIPEG 1 VANCOUVER 0
Connor Hellebuyck earned the 29-save shutout, which was his fourth perfect game of the season. He has a 25-6-6 record, 2.29 GAA, and .926 save percentage in 39 contests.
Brock Boeser tied for the Canucks lead with four shots on Hellebuyck. Boeser has 22 goals this season, but he been denied for six consecutive games.
Patrik Laine netted the contest’s lone goal. It was his 21st goal and 38th point in 48 games.
Blake Wheeler registered an assist on Sunday. He has 14 goals and 54 points in 48 contests in 2017-18.
Anders Nilsson kicked out 35 of 36 Jets shots. He’s 6-8-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .906 save percentage in 16 games.
SAN JOSE 6 ANAHEIM 2
Mikkel Boedker scored two goals and registered an assist. That gives him seven goals and 15 points in 38 contests.
Joe Thornton also came up big for the Sharks with a goal and an assist. He’s up to 13 goals and 35 points in 46 games.
Aaron Dell extended his winning streak to four games by stopping 33 of 35 shots. That’s especially impressive given that this was his second start in as many days.
By contrast, it was a rough night for John Gibson, who stopped 17 of 22 shots. With less than 10 minutes left in the contest, Gibson was pulled in favor of Ryan Miller, who kicked out three of four shots.
Ryan Getzlaf scored a goal and registered an assist for Anaheim. That gives him five goals and 28 points in 24 games.
LOS ANGELES 4 NY RANGERS 2
This brought an end to the Kings’ six-game losing streak, which was their longest skid of the campaign to date. They’re now 25-17-5 this season.
The contest certainly didn’t start out the Kings’ way. Jimmy Vesey found the back of the net at 7:12 of the first period to give the Rangers a 2-0 lead. He has 10 goals and 17 points in 46 contests.
Los Angeles rallied in the second period, led in part by Michael Amadio, who scored a goal and registered an assist. That gives the rookie three points in 11 games.
Tanner Pearson scored the game-winning goal. It was his ninth marker and 26th point in 47 contests.
Jonathan Quick turned aside 21 of 23 Rangers shots. He improved to 20-16-2 with a 2.34 GAA and .924 save percentage in 38 starts.
Henrik Lundqvist saved 26 of 29 shots last night. He has a 21-13-4 record, 2.55 GAA, and .924 save percentage in 41 contests.