Vegas Golden Knights Win Thriller Against Blackhawks In Chicago

CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 05: The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 at the United Center on January 5, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)
CHICAGO, IL - JANUARY 05: The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 at the United Center on January 5, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) /

It wasn’t pretty, but the Vegas Golden Knights got back on track against the Blackhawks.

The Vegas Golden Knights lost their first game in regulation in over a month against the Blues last night. Think about that; the run the Knights were on was absolutely unbelievable especially from an expansion team. But all good things must come to an end, and it’s time to turn the page.

Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant made a few lineup changes ahead of the game against the Hawks. The Knights activated Luca Sbisa and placed Jon Merrill on the injured reserve. Marc-Andre Fleury gets the night off, and Malcolm Subban is in the cage against the Blackhawks. Also, Ryan Carpenter made his Golden Knights debut as he’s in for Oscar Lindberg.

On the opposite end, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows for the Blackhawks. They sit in dead last in the Central division with only 48 points. A big reason why Chicago is struggling so much this season is because of the lack of production at the bottom of their roster. It also doesn’t help that Corey Crawford is out indefinitely. Journeyman goaltender Jeff Glass gets the start for Chicago.

In the first period, it was all Golden Knights as they got off to a fast start. Thanks to William Carrier’s speed, he generated a power-play chance for his team, and it eventually led to a goal. However, Subban had to come up big on a Tommy Wingels breakaway attempt.

Just as the power play expired, Jonathan Marchessault took a harmless wrist shot towards the net that deflected off both William Karlsson then Alex Tuch and into the back of the net. Tuch’s ninth goal of the season gave the Knights a crucial 1-0 lead on the road.

A few minutes later, Marchessault won a faceoff back to Nate Schmidt, and Reilly Smith shifted places with Marchessault that fooled the Hawks defense and Marchessault lined up at the blue line and ripped it past Glass for a 2-0 lead. The Cap-Rouge, Quebec native scored his first goal since signing his new contract and 16th goal overall. But the Hawks came alive with 16 minutes gone in the first.

Vinnie Hinostroza took a snapshot in the slot, and Subban couldn’t see it thanks to a screen by Erik Haula. Hinostroza’s third goal of the year gave the Hawks life and pulled the team within one. They came close again at the end of the period, but they couldn’t capitalize.

Overall, great period by the Knights. The last few minutes weren’t enjoyable to watch, but they carried the play for most of the first frame. The Knights led on the scoreboard 2-1 and in shots 19-10.

In the middle frame, it was a bit of a back and forth pace until the Knights took over once again. Karlsson fed Smith beautifully on a two on one, but Smith hit the end boards. Fortunately, Smith’s shot was so hard it found Karlsson who jammed it past Glass to give the Knights a two-goal lead again. Karlsson currently leads the team in goals with 21, and he’s starting to pull away.

But things started to shift in Chicago’s favor when Sbisa dropped the gloves with John Hayden. Up by two goals in the second period is not the best time for a fight as the Madhouse on Madison was rocking from that point on. That sequence resulted in the next goal for Chicago.

Off a broken play, Patrick Sharp scored on a two on one and flat out beat Subban short side. His fifth goal of the year pulled the Hawks back within one once again. The Hawks carried the pace of play for the rest of the middle frame.

Then within the final minute of the second, a turnover by Brayden McNabb led to another two on one that resulted in a goal from Nick Schmaltz. Subban had no chance going left to right as Schmaltz tied the game at 3.

All I can say is the Knights were extremely lucky to still be in this game. They played terrible in that second period and made very uncharacteristic plays. Self-inflicted wounds were the reason why the Knights gave up a two-goal lead twice. The shot totals at the end of two periods were 35-23 still favoring Vegas.

But just 30 seconds into the final frame, the Knights gave up the go-ahead goal on a three on two thanks to no one covering Jonathan Toews. I couldn’t believe how this team started the first shift of the period. Toews’ 12th goal of the year gives the Hawks a 4-3 lead.

However, after some line juggling by Gallant, the Knights found some momentum. Gallant put David Perron with Tuch and Cody Eakin. That line generated a goal when Perron saw a wide open Eakin in the slot who blasted it past Glass to tie the game at 4. Eakin’s sixth goal of the season was just another twist and turn in this game.

Moments later, Shea Theodore beat Glass to the blocker side and hit the post. On his very next shift, Theodore had a mini-breakaway and Glass made a ten-bell save. Sometimes you have to give credit where credit is due; Glass was sensational for the Blackhawks tonight regardless of the result.

After some big-time pressure by Chicago, Smith poke-checked the puck out of the zone and created a breakaway of his own. The Toronto, Ontario native made no mistake going upstairs stick side on Glass. His 11th goal of the year gave his team the lead once again and didn’t look back.

Despite some heavy pressure by the Hawks at the end of the game, the Knights held them off for a 5-4 victory. Subban made 28 saves on 32 shots and improved his personal record to 11-2-0. The Knights imposed their will towards the middle of the third period, and it was a great win for this hockey club to come back when they had every reason to give up.

My third star of the game is Jonathan Toews, he got his team going, and he ended up racking a goal and an assist on the scoresheet. My second star of the game was Jonathan Marchessault, he and his line were just fantastic, and Chicago had no answer for them. He finished with a goal and an assist with +3 rating himself.

And of course, my number one star was Reilly Smith. The game-winner and two more assists with a +4 rating. Smith generated so many opportunities with Karlsson and Marchessault as that trio remains one of the best lines in hockey. He was the best player on the ice without a doubt.

Next: Vegas Golden Knights Activate Luca Sbisa

All in all, the Vegas Golden Knights ground out a win on the road. It’s victories like these that bring a team closer together, and it’s pretty apparent they desperately wanted this one after losing a tough one to the Blues on Thursday. Next game is the final game before the bye week and marks the halfway point of the regular season, and it’s against the New York Rangers back at T-Mobile Arena on Sunday evening at 6:30 PM PT.