Golden Knights beat Canadiens to extend winning streak to seven games
MONTREAL — The Vegas Golden Knights have started their NHL season like a well-oiled machine.
Bruce Cassidy’s team has been cruising through the first three games of their five-stop Eastern Conference road trip. To top that, Vegas picked up a seventh consecutive win by downing the Montreal Canadiens 6-4 at the Bell Centre on Saturday.
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Along with the result, Jonathan Marchessault became the first Golden Knight in franchise history to pick up 300 points. Even on home soil, the Quebec City native downplayed the feat.
“It’s always nice, he said. “Obviously, I have been here since the first game and it’s a good achievement but I mean it’s nothing like the Ironman (streak) or anything.”
Marchessault referenced teammate Phil Kessel, who beat the NHL’s Ironman streak with a 990th consecutive game on Oct. 25. The Golden Knights’ veteran presence seems to have helped the team forge their impressive start which has them leading the Pacific Division.
“I think guys get along in that room and they have fun with one another and Phil’s streak certainly has brought us closer together as a team,” Cassidy said.
“That part’s been good and there’s a lot of other guys that are quiet leaders like the Alec Martinezs of the world that missed a lot of time last year. He’s out there every day grinding, blocking shots and playing the right way, a Stanley Cup champion so I think our guys look up to both those guys.”
Reilly Smith scored two goals, keeping Vegas’s hot streak alive. Nicolas Hague, Keegan Kolesar, Nicolas Roy and Marchessault added goals for the Golden Knights.
“We are excited to go to the rink and spend days with each other and I think that goes a long way especially when you’re playing 82 games and you’re travelling a lot,” Smith said. “So we’re having a lot of fun right now, winning definitely adds to that.”
“We cannot take it for granted,” Marchessault added. “I think winning in that league is pretty hard. We got a reality check last year but I think we’ve got to have more of that mentality of just working hard and taking it one game at a time and if we keep that mentality, I think we’ll be fine this year.”
Nick Suzuki scored two goals and Cole Caufield added one goal bringing both players to the eight-goal mark. Kirby Dach picked up three assists and Juraj Slakovsky scored a late marker.
Jake Allen made 36 saves and allowed six goals. Adin Hill blocked 27 shots and allowed four goals.
“I think we played a really good first period,” said Canadiens coach Martin St. Louis. “In the second we had good intentions, we had options but we weren’t able to execute our plays, they had a lot of offence on the other end and it didn’t allow our defencemen to change.
“We got a little too stubborn in the second to try and regain momentum by playing a deeper game to help our defencemen to get off the ice.”
Montreal matched Vegas’s intensity level in the first period but offered the Golden Knights a scoring opportunity on a silver platter. Joel Edmundsson made a costly mistake by clearing the puck straight to Hague in the high slot. The defenceman took no time finding the back of the net.
The Habs made up for their mistake just under a minute later when Dach found Caufield with a cross-ice pass and the winger completed the one-timer from the right faceoff circle.
The Golden Knights regained their lead at 2:24 of the second period by catching Montreal rookie Jordan Harris in a two-on-one situation. William Karlsson and Smith connected to notch Vegas’s second goal of the night.
Fans at the Bell Centre got their money’s worth with seven goals in the third period. Montreal tied the game early in the third when Dach connected with Suzuki on a give-and-go play.
Vegas regained their lead on the power play. Allen mishandled a shot from Kessel with his glove. Smith pounced on the puck to get his second marker of the night.
“We had a good push at the end of the second to start the third but we weren’t able to kill the penalty that gave them the advantage,” St. Louis said. “I liked our fight but we shot ourselves in the foot a few times tonight.”
The Golden Knights pulled away with two goals in just over 20 seconds. Kolesar deflected a shot from the point to grab his second of the season and then assisted on Roy’s marker, giving Vegas a 5-2 lead.
Montreal cut their gap back to two goals on the power play when Suzuki stunned Hill with a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle.
Jack Eichel connected with Marchessault who sniped Vegas’ sixth goal of the game with a one-timer.
Slafkovsky then netted his third of the season to close out a goal-friendly third period.
The Canadiens will head to Michigan to take on the Detroit Red Wings Tuesday. The Golden Knights will continue on their five-game road trip by paying a visit to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.