Winning 6-5 in a back-and-forth game that rarely looked in control isn’t how the reigning Stanley Cup-champion Vegas Golden Knights drew it up.
But a win is a win, and good teams have to learn how to get it done in a number of ways, according to captain Mark Stone.
“You’re going to have to win games in completely different ways every night in this league,” said Stone. “You’re going to have to win some of these run-and-gun games along the way, that’s what makes good teams good.”
Shea Theodore had a goal and three assists while Stone and Jack Eichel contributed a goal and two assists each as the Golden Knights defeated the Montreal Canadiens 6-5 on Thursday night.
Brett Howden, Brayden McNabb and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas (13-3-1), which lost 3-0 to the Washington Capitals on Tuesday. Adin Hill stopped 23 shots.
The score was tied 4-4 when Canadiens veteran forward Brendan Gallagher took a double-minor penalty for high-sticking Pavel Dorofeyev with 2:51 left in the third period. Eichel and Stone scored for the Golden Knights on the ensuing power play.
“It can’t happen,” Canadiens head coach Martin St. Louis said of Gallagher, who has made a habit of late-game penalties this season.
Barron got one back for Montreal with the goalie pulled with 54 seconds left, but the Canadiens couldn’t find the equalizer despite a late press.
Jesse Ylonen scored twice while Alex Newhook, Johnathan Kovacevic and Justin Barron also had goals for Montreal (7-8-2), which lost its third game in a row. Captain Nick Suzuki and defenceman Mike Matheson each had two assists.
Cayden Primeau made 36 saves in his third start of the season – and was a big reason the Golden Knights didn’t score eight or nine.
“I think six was probably pretty light tonight, with all the chances we had,” said Stone.
Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy gave credit where it was due.
“They have a say in that too, right?” said Cassidy about the missed chances. “Their goaltender was excellent, then eventually you keep putting pucks at him and you’re going to get something to go usually – and that’s how it played out.”
The Golden Knights scored their final three goals with the man-advantage to go 3-for-7. The Canadiens were 0-for-3.
St. Louis was lamenting the undisciplined play after the game.
“We played with fire tonight, and got burned,” he said.
Down 2-0, Vegas outscored Montreal 4-2 in a back-and-forth second period to tie the game entering the third.
Howden got Vegas on the board by beating Primeau short-handed at 2:33. Ylonen, who plays on the fourth line, replied at 8:28, by deking out Hill on a breakaway.
“I’ve seen it quite a few times,” said linemate Jake Evans. “He’s got really quick hands and a great release, so I like the odds when he’s on a breakaway.”
McNabb scored 18 seconds later to make it 3-2 and Marchessault added another at 11:20 to tie the game before Ylonen buried his second 33 seconds after that to regain the lead.
“It was kind of a weird game,” said Eichel. “They had some timely scoring, they never went away.”
Theodore, however, evened things again before the third.
Primeau carried the Canadiens through the first period by turning away all 18 Vegas shots, compared to Montreal’s six.
After the Golden Knights opened the game with the first eight shots, including a couple Primeau robberies on William Karlsson, Newhook scored on Montreal’s first look at 6:43.
Kovacevic then scored his first of the campaign at 10:03. Primeau continued to hold the fort until Vegas opened the floodgates in the second.
“He played a good game, especially in the first,” said St. Louis. “But 10 minutes of power play is tough for a goalie.”
Canadiens defenceman Arber Xhekaj left the game with an upper-body injury after falling to the ice from a heavy hit from Vegas forward Ivan Barbashev. Xhekaj exited favouring his left shoulder.
Montreal forward Rafael Harvey-Pinard missed the game with a lower-body injury. He’s considered day-to-day.
Karl Tremblay (1976-2023)
The Canadiens held a touching tribute for the late singer-songwriter Karl Tremblay, leader of the award-winning Quebecois band “Les Cowboys Fringants,” and played the group’s music throughout the evening.
Tremblay, who had prostate cancer, died Wednesday. He was 47.
Fans sang along and waved their flashlights to “Les Etoiles Filantes” before the puck drop, following along with lyrics for the 2004 hit song on the Bell Centre big screen. Tremblay was named the game’s first star.
Vegas: Visits the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday in the third game of a five-game road trip.
Montreal: Visits the Boston Bruins on Saturday to open a five-game road trip.