It was a win the Vegas Golden Knights needed at any cost, but the manner in which they dealt with the Calgary Flames should send a flood of confidence through the franchise.
After all, the Vegas Golden Knights had dropped five straight and lost seven of eight heading into this Pacific Division Matchup, a day after losing a tough one to the LA Kings.
And, the Golden Knights had a plethora of blown leads to their name, while they hadn’t really played a full 60-minute game since the early days of October.
So, the Knights would have taken a win against the Flames in any way it came, even if it was an ugly one-goal game.
At this point, it didn’t matter.
However, with the pressure mounting, the Golden Knights retreated to the war room, got their game face on and came out with a killer instinct that had been lacking for some time.
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They took advantage of the early opportunities afforded to them with William Karlsson starting and finishing a sublime play for the first goal, before Paul Stastny made it two after breaking out of his eight game slump without a point.
The Knights played the game they had to in the first two periods, getting pucks on net while playing a snippy game when it was required.
Marc-Andre Fleury, as he has all year, also came up big with a plethora of huge stops at key periods, and the Golden Knights also did a good job of standing up to Matthew Tkachuk who did his utmost to try and disrupt the flow of the home team.
And, after grinding their way through the first 40 minutes, the Knights went back to the locker room, caught a breath and then came out swinging in the third period.
Like a heavyweight boxer waiting for the perfect opportunity to land the knockout blow, the Vegas Golden Knights had toyed with their opponents, tiring them out and leaving them vulnerable.
As a result, the Calgary Flames were there for the taking in the third and they collapsed as soon as Max Pacioretty delivered the third goal of the night.
Remember in Creed II when Adonis Creed had his ribs broken again against Viktor Drago in the final fight between the two in Russia, only for Adonis to drag himself off the canvas before breaking Drago both physically and mentally?
That’s exactly what the Golden Knights did to the Flames on Sunday. They battered their Pacific Division rivals while still giving them hope, before snatching that away in emphatic fashion.
Pacioretty’s goal led to three further tucks in the span of a frantic few minutes as the Knights refused to let history repeat itself.
Still scarred by the recent images of blowing leads in the final periods of games before being finished off, the Golden Knights flipped the narrative this time around and pressed their foot down on the throat of the Flames until they were no longer breathing.
It was exactly the kind of killer instinct that had been severely lacking in previous games, and it was a welcome reminder of what this team can do to opponents when they are firing on all cylinders.
And it was a day where Vegas’ big hitters came to play with William Karlsson recording a multi-point night for the third straight game, while Nate Schmidt achieved a new career-high with four assists.
Both Mark Stone and Paul Stastny broke out of their scoring slumps with a goal each, and it was like the Knights were taking out their frustrations on a helpless Calgary team.
While an ugly win would have sufficed, the way in which the Vegas Golden Knights dismantled the Flames was exactly what the doctor ordered.
And, after breaking out in the third period, the Golden Knights also shed the reputation that they had become prone to falling apart late in games.
All in all, it was a game that acted as a perfect remedy for the Vegas Golden Knights who proved to themselves and to the rest of the NHL that they are what they thought they were.
A very, very good hockey team capable of crushing anyone in the NHL.