LAS VEGAS–The injury bug hasn’t let up. That much was apparent after it was revealed within the last few days that Jack Eichel received a procedure on his knee. It became even more apparent when Michael Amadio was ruled out for Thursday’s game at the morning skate with an upper-body injury. In turn, the Golden Knights entered a home game at T-Mobile arena as the betting underdog for just the 21st time in the seven-year history of the franchise. Needless to say, if you took the Knights at plus-money you went home a happy man. The half-Henderson lineup won 5-1 on the back of two perfect assists from Nic Roy and another strong effort from Logan Thompson in net.
How it happened
Sometimes the first period is a slow burn. Thursday’s was far from that. The Rangers came out like gangbusters, skating circles around the Knights in the first ten seconds of the period while taking an early 7-2 advantage on shots.
That style of play catches up to you eventually though. For the Rangers on Thursday, it was sooner rather than later.
Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring on behalf of the Golden Knights with 8:25 remaining in the first period by swatting a Nicolas Roy feed past Igor Shesterkin and into the net. It was good for Marchessault’s 19th of the season, giving him a share of the team lead with Jack Eichel.
It didn’t take long for matters to get worse on the Rangers side of the bench. 73 seconds later, Ivan Barbashev put the Knights ahead 2-0 when an on-the-money feed from Nicolas Roy deflected off his skate and into the nylon. The play was immediately flagged by the league’s replay center in Toronto, but the goal was determined to be good after replay review determined that Barbashev made no distinct kicking motion.
The NHL’s official report of the review stated that the replay review “supported the Referee’s call on the ice that the puck deflected off Ivan Barbashev’s skate and entered the New York net while he was in the process of stopping.”
The rest of the period went without scoring, and the first intermission came with the Knights ahead 2-0.
The second period started off much slower. The Rangers team that was raring to go in the first period now looked tired and slow. For the first 18 minutes of the period, the Knights weren’t exactly pushing things either. Which was fine. They held a lead and could likely sense the same sense of lethargy that those of us watching along could see.
At the 17:59 mark of the period to be exact, Ivan Barbashev converted on the powerplay for his second goal of the night to put the Knights ahead 3-0. As the PA guy was announcing that goal to the crowd, he was interrupted by the thunderous roar of the crowd when Keegan Kolesar made it 4-0 by tipping in a shot from Kaedan Korczsak. It was a hell of a moment in The Fortress.
For the second straight game, the Knights were in a comfortable enough position after two periods to make the third a procession. The Rangers got a goal from Mika Zibanejad early in the period to cut the deficit to 4-1, but were unable to press the Golden Knights further.
Brett Howden shot a short-handed goal into an empty night to set the final score at 5-1 in favor of the Knights.
The Golden Knights finish their four-game homestand against the Penguins on Sunday night. Puck drop is scheduled for 7 p.m. local time.