Vegas Golden Knights: Stephenson the hero in breathtaking comeback win

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LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 04: The Vegas Golden Knights celebrate after the game-winning goal by Chandler Stephenson #20 in overtime against the St. Louis Blues at T-Mobile Arena on January 04, 2020 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images)

It was thrilling, it was dramatic and it was a contest that had absolutely everything, including a miraculous comeback as the Vegas Golden Knights beat the St. Louis Blues in overtime on Saturday.

Although they were absolutely dominated for much of the opening two periods and staring down a 3-0 hole, the Vegas Golden Knights produced a stunning fightback to stretch their winning streak to four consecutive games.

You couldn’t predict the final outcome when watching the first period, however. The Blues, who came into the contest sitting atop both the Central Division and the Western Conference, were showing why they are such an elite team.

Although the Golden Knights had started brightly, Deryk Engelland took a dumb penalty and that led to Alex Pietrangelo getting the Blues on the board with a laser of a wrister.

David Perron, who hadn’t registered a point in his previous four outings against his former team, was wreaking havoc against the Knights and he tallied the second of three points with a primary helper on Jaden Schwartz‘s goal.

And a nightmare first period was complete when Oskar Sundqvist skated hard to the net before scooping a bouncing puck over the shoulder of Marc-Andre Fleury.

The second period wasn’t much better as Vegas failed to record a single shot on goal until the latter stages, with a superb defensive play by Nick Holden proving to be the turning point.

Because, midway through the period, Ryan Reaves battled hard to ram home the puck before Paul Stastny struck minutes later to force the game wide open.

The momentum was firmly with the Golden Knights by this point and they seized control of the contest in the third period thanks to goals from Nicolas Roy and Reilly Smith.

It was far from over, though. Given how this captivating matchup had unfolded, it was no surprise that it was Perron who came back to haunt his old team one more time with a thunderous shot to take the game to overtime.

While some may have feared that there would be one nasty sting left in the tail for the Golden Knights, events transpired to produce a historical night as Chandler Stephenson won the puck in his own zone before charging on a breakaway and winning the game for Vegas.

It marked an outstanding comeback for the Vegas Golden Knights who overturned a three-goal deficit for the first time in franchise history, while winning four consecutive games for the second time this year.

LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 04: St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly (90) and Vegas Golden Knights center Nicolas Roy (10) face-off during a regular season game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by: Marc Sanchez/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Game

First Period – With Jonathan Marchessault still out with a lower-body injury, the Vegas Golden Knights brought Tomas Nosek back into the lineup with Jon Merrill a healthy scratch.

Marc-Andre Fleury made his fourth straight start between the pipes, while backup Jake Allen was in net for the St. Louis Blues.

It was actually a good start for the Knights as William Carrier, once again playing a bigger role on the third line, beat veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to a loose puck before sending a perfect feed over to Nicolas Roy to setup a high-danger scoring chance.

That was as good as it got for the Golden Knights in the first period, though, as Deryk Engelland was given two minutes for an elbow and that started the nightmare.

Alex Pietrangelo, who will be a UFA in the summer, took the puck from Ryan O’Reilly in the high slot before lasering a wrister past Fleury.

Elite teams know when to put the foot down on the gas and that’s exactly what the Blues did as Jaden Schwartz put home a centering pass from David Perron on an odd-man rush.

Fleury was being left out to dry and he had to produce a superb glove save to snag a Ryan O’Reilly shot from out the air, although the goaltender was soon beaten by Oskar Sundqvist.

It was an ugly period from the Golden Knights who were outshot 11-8 by the St. Louis Blues, who were dominating in every aspect.

Second Period – In response to an awful first, Vegas Head Coach Gerard Gallant put his lines into a blender with less than perfect results.

Because, much like the opening 20 minutes, the Blues dominated while the Knights couldn’t get anything going in the offensive zone.

The Golden Knights did show some fight at least during a huge scrum, which resulted in Max Pacioretty, Nic Hague and Deryk Engelland heading to the box for Vegas, while Mackenzie MacEachern and Zach Sanford also sat for St. Louis.

And that seemed to spark Vegas into life as minutes later, Nick Holden produced one of the plays of the game by getting behind Marc-Andre Fleury and clearing the puck off the line after it had bounced over the goalie.

That’s when the momentum shifted.

Because, after it took half a period for the Knights to register a single shot on goal, the tide began to turn.

It started when Ryan Reaves put his good strength to good use in-front of the net before scrambling the loose puck past Jake Allen.

And the Golden Knights went into the second intermission fighting after another superb play from William Carrier allowed Paul Stastny to poke the puck past Allen to make it a one-goal game.

Third Period – It didn’t take long for the Vegas Golden Knights to make it a tied game as Nic Hague had a shot blocked, but Nicolas Roy was on hand to force the puck beyond Jake Allen.

There was a blow for the Knights to take, however, after Cody Glass went down with what looked to be a serious knee injury, and the rookie had to be helped off the ice and down to the locker room.

Vegas managed to keep their cool, though, and they took the lead thanks to Chandler Stephenson who blocked a pass in the neutral zone before dishing it to Reilly Smith, who proceeded to beat Allen with a wrister.

However, Stephenson went from hero to villain as he was called for holding, and that led to David Perron unleashing a booming slap slot past Marc-Andre Fleury on the power play for his fourth point of the night.

Overtime – It would have been heartbreaking for the Vegas Golden Knights to lose this one in overtime, but they had to thank Chandler Stephenson for the opposite happening.

For the second time in the game, Stephenson made a huge play as he stripped the puck from Robert Thomas before darting down the ice on a breakaway and beating Jake Allen to win the game for the Golden Knights.

It was a stunning comeback by Vegas who won their fourth consecutive game at T-Mobile Arena to match a season-high.

Let’s go over some notes and stats from the game…

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