Golden Knights hang on in Ottawa, defeat Senators 5-4 for sixth straight win
The Vegas Golden Knights became the first team in the NHL to reach 10 wins with a 5-4 victory against the Ottawa Senators Thursday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
It was Vegas’ sixth win in a row but marked the first time this season that Vegas surrendered more than three goals.
That being said, after a rare gaffe in the first period, Logan Thompson delivered another strong performance, making a career-high 42 saves in the effort to improve to 6-2-0 on the year.
Ottawa’s Claude Giroux and Tim Stutzle each scored two goals, while Vegas got goals from five different players: Mark Stone, Reilly Smith, Zach Whitecloud, Chandler Stephenson and William Carrier.
When Carrier scored 10:14 into the second period, Vegas held a comfortable four-goal lead. But Ottawa proceeded to score three unanswered goals, pushing Vegas to the brink.
The Golden Knights found a way to win and are now 10-2-0 on the season.
Vegas opened the scoring early when Stone potted his fourth of the year. Stone, who spent parts of seven seasons with the Senators, took advantage of a brutal giveaway by Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot, making it 1-0 just 1:22 into the contest.
But the Senators evened things up three minutes later when Giroux scored from the neutral zone.
It was the first terrible goal Thompson has given up this year, as Giroux’s dump-in bounced on the way in and eluded Thompson’s glove to make it 1-1 at 4:12 of the first.
The Golden Knights didn’t waste much time grabbing the lead once again, however, a lead they would hold for the rest of the game.
William Karlsson split the defense on a dangle move, and he and Smith got behind the Ottawa defense and scored in transition on the power play.
Smith’s third of the year gave Vegas a 2-1 lead 9:19 into the game.
The Golden Knights added to their lead with a goal in the final 32 seconds of the first period as Stone and Whitecloud completed a give-and-go for Whitecloud’s first of the year.
Whitecloud joined Shea Theodore as the only Vegas defensemen to score this season.
A choppy second period featured four goals, two for each team, though Jack Eichel’s bid on the power play was overturned after Stephenson was ruled offside.
Stephenson made up for it later in the frame, however, scoring the Golden Knights’ second shorthanded goal of the year.
Nicolas Roy and Stephenson broke out on a clean 2-on-1, and both showed great patience on the play. Roy outwaited the sliding Chabot before feeding it to Stephenson, who deked all the way around Anton Forsberg and slid it into the net to make it 4-1 just 5:15 into the middle frame.
It was Stephenson’s fifth goal of the year.
Five minutes later, Carrier gave the Golden Knights a four-goal lead, scoring his second goal in two games as he beat Forsberg five-hole. It was another goal scored off a turnover, this time by Alex DeBrincat.
That ended the night for Forsberg, leaving Cam Talbot to make his season debut in relief.
He fared quite well, stopping all 13 shots he faced.
The Senators pulled within three immediately after the expiration of a power play, as Giroux beat Thompson short-side on a one-timer, making it 5-2 just over four minutes after Carrier’s third of the year.
It was Giroux’s second goal of the game, but unlike his dump-in that ended up in the back of the net, this one was a vintage Giroux laser from the left circle.
The goal gave Ottawa a noticeable lift, and the momentum led to another Senators goal, this one coming in the final 1:21 of the period.
Brady Tkachuk’s shot trickled under Thompson’s pads, and Stutzle was all alone, tapping it in backdoor to make it 5-3.
Despite being down four at the midway point of the game, Ottawa trailed by just two going into the third.
That deficit was cut in half just 2:34 into the final frame.
Ottawa was the hungrier team at the start of the third, and a Brett Howden turnover ended up in the back of the net. Tkachuk and Stutzle teamed up again, capitalizing on a give-and-go for Stutzle’s second goal of the night.
The Golden Knights got their first taste of 5-on-3 action just under eight minutes into the period but were unable to convert, in large part due to the strong play of Talbot.
The Senators continued to push the rest of the way, but Thompson shut the door, making 10 saves in the third as the Golden Knights held on for the 5-4 win.
It was an underwhelming night for the Golden Knights, who were outshot 46-32 (30-19 in the second and third periods).
Aside from almost blowing a four-goal lead and giving up four goals, the Golden Knights lost the momentum and were unable to reclaim it. Puck management was an issue throughout, and discipline played a role as the Golden Knights took more than two penalties for the first time since taking six in the second period against Calgary on Oct. 18.
Though Vegas did not give up a power-play goal, Brayden McNabb’s crosschecking penalty at 12:18 of the second ended up being a turning point when Giroux scored immediately after the power play expired. It got Ottawa back into the game, and the Senators were able to pull within two through 40 minutes.
Vegas had a chance to come out strong in the third period and take control, but that did not happen.
It was Ottawa that controlled possession in all three periods. While that wouldn’t necessarily matter if Vegas had retained its lead, the Senators used that momentum to score three unanswered goals.
All four Vegas lines finished with Corsi shares below 50 percent.
Not every game can be an excellent performance, and Ottawa deserves credit for the comeback effort. In the end, the Golden Knights found a way to win, which is what good teams have to do over the course of an 82-game season.
But there will be plenty of things for the team to address before the Golden Knights take on the Montreal Canadiens Saturday night.