Game Recap: VGK vs Florida Panthers

Golden Knights (32-22-8)  | Florida Panthers (32-23-6)


Last night, the NHL celebrated the 40th anniversary of the 1980 U.S.A hockey team’s legendary victory over the awesome Russian hockey team. The Golden Knights continued a hell of a win streak.


Coming into the T-Mobile Arena, the Florida Panthers, currently on a 4-7-1 slip in their season, looked to pull off a miracle of their own and get back on track against a Golden Knight team that defeated them 7-2 16 days ago. Vegas scored four goals in the third period to close that game, which began the Panthers’ current losing streak.

Coming into the game, the first-place Golden Knights were looking to expand their lead. Vegas is currently on a four-game win streak against some of the best the NHL has to offer, including a 5-3 victory over the top-ranked Tampa Bay Lightning this past Thursday night.

Surprisingly, the Golden Knights allowed the Panthers to come out of the opening faceoff and score the game’s first goal when Mike Hoffman found goalie Mark-Andre Fleury out of position. He took advantage, scoring his 24th goal of the season and putting the Panthers up 1-0, 0:28 into the opening period.

The Golden Knights rallied, tightening up their defense, eventually having ace defenseman Ryan Reeves set up centerman Tomas Nosek for his 7th goal of the season halfway through the period. Tying the game 1-1, then both teams defenses stepped up, forcing both teams into intermission at the tie score.


The game wouldn’t be tied for long coming out of intermission.


A Power play in favor of the Panthers gave Evangii Dadenov a power-play goal that put the Panthers up 2-1 just 24 seconds into the second period. But again, the Golden Knights would respond later in the period with a faceoff breakaway goal by William Carrier to tie the game up at two apiece.

Late into the second period, a double penalty on both teams created a four on four situation on the ice, to which the Golden Knights’ leading scorer Max Pacioretty took advantage of breakaway steal with :04 left in the four on four. The Knights would take the lead for the first time in the game 3-2, and as they have done every game in their last four games, take the momentum into the third period.

Going into the third period, the Golden Knights had over 33 shots on goal against the Panthers’ 16, with 18 chances to score against the Panthers’ 16. Showing yet again that the Golden Knights are giving their opponent fewer chances to hit shots at their goalies’ net, but are allowing opposing teams to keep themselves in the game with a better shooting percentage. For that reason, all hope was not lost going into the opening faceoff in the third period for the Florida Panthers and Joel Quenneville. That was until Reilly Smith, 18 seconds into the period, scored again to extend the lead for the Golden Knights to 4-2.

Florida, now feeling the looming pressure of the game getting of hand for them, put a score in on the Golden Knights at 14:49 in the Third, to temporarily close the gap 3-4. Coach DeBoer challenged the play, but the goal was upheld by the officiating crew, keeping the score 3-4 in favor of Vegas.

Although Florida seemed to have new life in the game, the Golden Knights were not moved by the efforts of the Panthers. A late third-period goal by Reilly Smith, his second of the game, put the game away for the Knights and completed their five-game homestand a perfect 5-0 against top competition. The stretch should prove to the NHL that the Golden Knights are a real threat in the Western Conference and have a real potential to make a significant impact on the playoff race going forward.

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– JaRon Turner – Franchise Sports Media 

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