Golden Knights move to 3rd in Pacific with win over Blackhawks

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY
The Golden Knights defeated the Blackhawks 3-1 in a game that epitomized mid-April hockey.

LAS VEGAS — When you play an 82-game regular season, it’s all but guaranteed there won’t be 82 classic games. Especially when you’re playing out the regular season.

That was obvious on Tuesday as the Golden Knights beat the eliminated Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 in a slow burning effort at T-Mobile Arena.

However, the game had larger implications for Knights. With the win, they took a one point lead on the Los Angeles Kings for third place in the Pacific Division with one game remaining for both teams.

The first 57 minutes were about as forgettable as you could imagine, but the closing minutes got a little hairy before an empty-net goal iced the game.

“We wanted to play well, and I thought as the game went along that we got better,” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s important. It’s not the start we would have liked. 

“I thought we were okay, a little uneven both ways.”

The Kings will get their crack at the Blackhawks on Thursday while the Knights will host the Anaheim Ducks, who will be debuting Cutter Gauthier.

It took more than 36 minutes for the either team to break through. Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb opened the scoring with 3:35 remaining in the second period in a highlight-reel, spin-move goal off Tomas Hertl’s rebound.

The goal surprised McNabb as much as it did the fans.

“I don’t even know what happened,” he said. “I just was able to put it in. I don’t know.”

The Knights took a 2-0 lead with 12:47 left in the game when Michael Amadio scored an unassisted goal. It was Amadio’s 14th goal of the season,

“I blocked the shot there in the defensive zone, then kind of just wanted to get the shot off before the defenseman got to me,” Amadio said. “I found a hole, I guess, up top. I switched up my tape job today for the game, so maybe I’ll stick with that.”

The Blackhawks broke the shutout late in the third, thanks to a Jason Dickinson goal via an assist from top draft pick Conor Bedard. They had a few more chances to tie the game, but Nic Roy buried an empty-net goal.

Thursday’s regular-season finale, which is set for 7 p.m. against the Ducks, will be a chance for Knights fans to celebrate the defending champions before the playoffs begin next week.

“We know how incredible our fan base is,” Cassidy said. “I think that’s why our guys are in the community as often as they are.

“I think Thursday will be a good night for them to sort of be able to give them a big thank you. … Then after that, let’s get playing, get to our game like we did tonight and get ready for the playoffs.”