Vegas Golden Knights Rally Late And Edge Out Predators In Shootout

NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 08: Reilly Smith #19 of the Las Vegas Golden Knights celebrates with teammates after scoring the game winning goal in a shootout against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on December 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - DECEMBER 08: Reilly Smith #19 of the Las Vegas Golden Knights celebrates with teammates after scoring the game winning goal in a shootout against the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on December 8, 2017 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Malcolm Subban outperforms brother in their first professional matchup.

The Vegas Golden Knights and Nashville Predators had a lot of storylines entering this game tonight. It all started back in the expansion draft when the Golden Knights took James Neal away from the Predators.  Neal played three seasons for Nashville accumulating 77 goals, 59 assists and 136 points in 219 games played.

Teammates, coaching staff and fans in Nashville gave Neal a lovely tribute during the game tonight. Definitely a heartfelt moment for a player who gave it his all every night. But surprisingly, that wasn’t the primary development leading up to the game.

Friday nights game featured PK Subban playing his younger brother Malcolm for the first time professionally. P.K. is having a nice little year once again registering four goals, 14 assists and 18 points in 28 games played. And Vegas fans know all about Malcolm’s 6-2-0 record, 2.27 GAA, and .923 SV%.

The first got underway with both teams feeling each other out in the first five minutes. Not much going on as no shots were getting through to either Subban or Pekka Rinne. However, the first chance came when Vegas went on the powerplay.

The Knights got their first power play goal off the rush this year thanks to the strong skating and power move from Alex Tuch. Tuch fended off the defender and made a beautiful pass to Wiliam Karlsson for his 15th goal of the season. Karlsson’s goal was the only tally of the period as the Knights went into the second with a 1-0 lead.

In the second period, Subban made a couple of big saves in the middle frame. The first on Craig Smith on a mini-breakaway attempt but Subban robbed him clean with a glove stop. And the second big halt was on Nick Bonino on a two on one where Subban had to reach post to post.

About 14 minutes passed in the second when Luca Sbisa took a shot that deflected off a Preds defender right to Neal who slapped the puck past Rinne. That goal silenced the entire building in Nashville as their once hero scored against them. But it didn’t quiet them for long.

Calle Jarnkrok scored off a turnover and failed clearing attempt from Tuch and Cody Eakin. It was a tough goal to give up knowing there were less than five minutes to go in the second. There’s a big difference between a two-goal lead on the road and a one-goal lead, especially in one of the best home-ice advantages in hockey such as Nashville.

The final period of regulation started just the same as the end of the second. Nashville kept peppering Subban, and the Knights couldn’t get any offensive zone time for their own. It finally came back to bite them when Viktor Arvidsson tied the game at two.

Subban made the initial save on Kevin Fiala, but Arvidsson was there in front for the rebound and stuffed the puck in the back of the net to tie the game at two. Vegas Head Coach Gerard Gallant challenged, but no dice as the play stood as called.

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With about five minutes to go in the third, the Knights gave up a goal after a brutal Shea Theodore turnover as Nick Bonino put the Preds in the lead 3-2. Theodore’s rough shift cost them for the time being. However, Gallant showed trust in putting him back out there at the end of the game. On the positive note, he followed his worst shift up with two great ones after. Hopefully, that small hiccup leads to a breakout for Theodore.

With the Knights down one with a minute and change to go, the team pulled Subban for an extra attacker. The Golden Knights turned up the pressure and showed their best hockey of the game in the final minute. Vegas had many chances, but Rinne was up to the task until about 40 seconds to go.

Colin Miller fed Erik Haula on a beautiful cross-ice pass to tie the game at three. That’s Haula’s second consecutive game-tying goal with the first one coming against the Ducks on Tuesday night. The goal forced both teams to extra time as both sides deserved a point on this evening.

As always, overtime was a track meet. Up and down the ice, both teams had four shots each and sweet scoring chances. However, overtime wasn’t enough, and the game went to a shootout to decide each teams fate. The Golden Knights are on a stretch of three consecutive games of overtime and two games in a row going to a shootout.

Malcolm Subban and Pekka Rinne gave their oppositions no room and the shootout had to go to sudden death. Finally, in the sixth round, it was Reilly Smith who ended it with a shot to the blocker side of Rinne. Subban went six for six in attempts in the shootout and was stellar all game long. But unfortunately, we didn’t get to see P.K. VS Malcolm in the one on one frame. Damn!

I would have to say my third star of the game would go to James Neal. Neal’s goal gave the Golden Knights a two-goal lead, but he tied his production in with high work ethic which made him a very dangerous player tonight. My second star is Erik Haula who all of a sudden has a knack for scoring huge goals for this team. A tying goal with the goalie pulled against one of the leagues best goaltenders on the road. Can you say clutch?

And of course, my number one star is Malcolm Subban. He kept the Knights in this game with some miraculous stops in the second and third periods. Overall, Subban stopped 41 of 44 shots and didn’t allow the Predators to score once in the shootout. Even though fans are desperately awaiting the return of Marc-Andre Fleury, Subban has been fantastic in goal for Vegas, and he’ll provide long-term stability in the crease.

Next: Vegas Golden Knights Win First Shootout In Franchise History.

All in all, this was an excellent game from start to finish. But it’s always a little bit sweeter when you beat the defending Western Conference champions in their house. The Vegas Golden Knights are back at it Saturday night in Dallas for their third meeting against the Stars. Catch puck drop with Dave Goucher and Shane Hnidy at 5 PM PT on AT&T Sportsnet.