Vegas Golden Knights: Jonathan Marchessault And Reilly Smith Sink Former Team

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: (L-R) Jonathan Marchessault #81 and Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers during the game at T-Mobile Arena on December 17, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 17: (L-R) Jonathan Marchessault #81 and Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after scoring a goal against the Florida Panthers during the game at T-Mobile Arena on December 17, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images) /

Two Vegas Golden Knights forwards had a big night against their former team on Sunday evening.

A bunch of Vegas Golden Knights had a chip on their shoulder heading into Sunday’s action against the Florida Panthers. One is actually Head Coach Gerard Gallant. He once coached the Florida Panthers and won them a division title. Gallant went 96-65-25 with the Panthers in three seasons and won the Jack Adams Award for coach of the year in 2015-16.

But after a slow start in 2016-17, they fired him right after Thanksgiving and left him and his assistant coach Mike Kelly on the streets of Carolina after a loss to the Hurricanes. Gallant and Kelly reunited to join the Golden Knights coaching staff, and things have never been better for the duo. They also weren’t the only ones who were outcasted by the Panthers.

The Panthers decided to leave Jonathan Marchessault exposed AND also traded Reilly Smith for a fourth-round pick in 2018. Florida gave up way too quick on these two players and basically got nothing in return for them. Gallant put both players together on a line with William Karlsson, and they haven’t missed a beat. All the former Panthers are in attendance and made their presence known against them on Sunday night.

The first period didn’t start on the right foot. The Panthers earned two quick goals from Radim  Vrbata and Mike Matheson. The first goal I think Subban should’ve had. He had a clear lane to see the puck, but he was late getting over to the post and Vrbata beat him blocker side.

Matheson nearly did the same thing on his goal except he wound up for the slapshot and blew it past Malcolm Subban’s blocker side once again. Let’s hope this isn’t a sign of teams starting to find out Subban’s weakness. He didn’t look very sharp on this night. However, he shut the door for the rest of the night.

The Knights quickly answered back when Nate Schmidt made a terrific defensive play in his own zone and started a transition up the ice. He made a sweet saucer pass over to Karlsson who fed Smith and found Schmidt waiting for the snapshot who pinched in the offensive zone to finish off the goal. It’s only his second goal of the season, but it’s always nice to see a great locker room guy like Schmidt to get on the board.

Then very late into the first, Colin Miller ripped one past James Reimer for his fifth of the year to pull Vegas in a tie at two. Marchessault didn’t have a lane to the net to shoot at, but he found Miller who did and he made no mistake. Both teams went into the dressing room tied at two, but all the momentum was in favor of the Golden Knights.

Not a ton of scoring chances for either team in the middle frame as both sides looked flat. The goaltenders weren’t really busy at all stopping every puck in that period with ease. Both teams went into the third knotted at two, but the Knights finally started to take over.

The Golden Knights outshot the Panthers in the third period 20-2. It was one of the most dominant periods of hockey this franchise has ever seen. The Knights were relentless right from the opening puck drop in the third.

After a failed power play opportunity when Matheson stepped out of the box, Marchessault took a harmless wrist shot that deflected off of Erik Haula’s stick and into the net for his 12th of the year. That play was one of the weirdest looking sequences all year, but fortunately, it worked in the Knights favor. Vegas took the lead and never looked back.

Empty net goals from Marchessault and James Neal was the icing on the cake to an outstanding finish of the game. Fans once again gave the Knights a loud ovation, and they rightfully deserved it. The win allowed the Knights to jump ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific division. Gallant must’ve felt good leaving T-Mobile Arena Sunday night after winning against the team that fired him a year ago.

My third star of the game was Colin Miller. He has flipped the switch since being picked in the expansion draft from Boston. He’s up to a career-high five goals, and his slap shot remains one of the best on the team.

I would have to say Reilly Smith earned my second star of the night. Two assists against his former team and reliable in the defensive zone per usual. Just another night at the office for the Toronto, Ontario native.

And of course, my number one star is Jonathan Marchessault. His three-point night capped off one of his best games as a Golden Knight; He earned his revenge not only on the scoresheet but on the scoreboard as well.

Next: Vegas Golden Knights: Smith, Marchessault, And Gallant Battle Former Team.

All in all, this was a fantastic game for the Vegas Golden Knights. And with Washington and Tampa Bay coming to town, Marc-Andre Fleury’s rested and ready to go against two familiar foes. A couple of colossal tests comes up before Christmas and lets’ hope this team is prepared to bring it all before the holiday break kicks in on December 24th.