The Golden Knights opened up their home slate against the Chicago Blackhawks and it resulted in a 1-0 victory with two Calder Memorial Trophy candidates making their impact. Logan Thompson was back in the net after earning a hard fought opening night victory over the Los Angeles Kings, and collected a total of 27 saves and his second career shutout. Paul Cotter was the lone goal scorer on the night which is the third of his NHL season.
The Golden Knights will play on the road Saturday evening against the Seattle Kraken, who are entering the contest with a 1-0-1 record.
First Period Breakdown
Unlike the first game against the Kings, the Golden Knights offense got off to a hot start. The first four minutes of the game, there was no sign of any offense coming from the Blackhawks. Once they did, Thompson right there to stop it along with a shot by Patrick Kane and Andreas Afhanasiou Defensively, Brett Howden recorded a pair of hits. Cotter, also recorded a hit. Nic Hague, who was making his season debut after signing a new three year deal a few days prior, managed to get off a couple of shots in the period.
The aggressive play by Howden was a sign of things to look forward to over the course of the season. While there was no scoring in the first, it was vert evident that the Golden Knights were the better hockey team in every face of the game. Thompson continued to impress the masses and his first period performance saw 10 saves.
Score after one period of play: Blackhawks 0, Golden Knights 0
Overall impressions of the first period of play:
– Thompson looks great, definitely getting a few tests in the net.
– Cotter and Howden both are making huge contributions early on in the game.. Great sign to see other names outside of Eichel, Marchessault and Stone to make noise on the ice.
– Defensively the Golden Knights looked a little better than they did against the Kings in the first period.
First Period Grades
Offense: B- | Defense: A | Special Teams: B | Goaltending: A+
Second Period Breakdown
The second period saw the Golden Knights and Blackhawks going back and forth with puck possession.. Pail Cotter got a hooking call with 13:31 left gave the Blackhawks their second power play of the night with the Golden Knights effectively killing it off. After the penalty kill, Cotter would remain on the ice for another shift. Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson narrowly missed on a two on one attack but Zach Whitecloud would intercept a pass in the corner passing it to Cotter launched a beauty through the legs of Staley down the middle of the goal for his first goal of the season.
Keegan Kolesar and Cotter would continue the aggressive play on the ice. Stone, Howden and Stephenson would continue to give the Blackhawks all they could handle defensively. Blackhawks goaltender Alex Stalock certainly deserves his props. His play in net was spectacular with the Golden Knights offensive attack. The second period had plenty of theatrics for the Golden Knights offense and it showed that they were clearly the better team between the two clubs. The Golden Knights outshot the Blackhawks 12-0 in the final eight minutes and change.
Score after one period of play: Golden Knights 1, Blackhawks 0
Overall impressions of the second period of play:
– Paul Cotter looking more and more comfortable on the ice. Aggressive play fits.
– Alex Stalock was absolutely spectacular in net for the Blackhawks.
– Golden Knights offense looks really good despite only scoring one goal in the period.
– Power Play still needs some work. Too much time wasted outside offensive zone.
Second Period Grades
Offense: A | Defense: A | Special Teams: C- | Goaltending: A+
Third Period Breakdown
The third period started with the Golden Knights continuing to work on the offensive zone in an effective manner. Brett Howden continues to impress on the ice with his play. Thompson, again, continues to be a force to be reckoned with in the net. The more he plays, the more confidence it seems he gains. The power play certainly looked better in the third than it did in the first two periods of play with better offensive possession in the offensive zone.
Nic Hague made some solid contributions on the ice. Overall, the Golden Knights defense played a spectacular game. Jonathan Marchessault and Stephenson continue to improve in the young season. Aggressive play towards the end of the game like the Golden Knights did was extremely important. The best part of the period was seeing the work spread between the various lines throughout the period.
Final Score: Golden Nights 1, Blackhawks 0
Overall impressions of the third period of play:
– Logan Freaking Thompson. Was there to stop the puck.
– Offense played well despite being shut down by Staley.
– Power play was better in third period than it was in the first two periods of play.
– Defensive game was on point all period long.
Third Period Grades
Offense: A | Defense: A+ | Special Teams: C+ | Goaltending: A+
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Three takes on Game Knight #2
1 – Logan Thompson continues to impress
Picking up where he left off against the Los Angeles Kings, Thompson continued to grow in the net with 27 saves on the night. The shutout is the second of his career. For his efforts, he was awarded the first star of the night. The more the Golden Knights keep improving on the defensive side of things, the better it will be for Thompson. Along with Paul Cotter, Thompson deserves some good consideration for Calder Trophy honors if his play keeps up at this level.
2 – Defense was amazing
Yes, the Blackhawks are not a great hockey team but they did show up and they did play an aggressive style against the Golden Knights. The defense still needs some work but it looked much better against the Blackhawks. Having two of the best defensive players in the game certainly helps with Pietrangelo and Theodore. Brayden McNabb and Alex Martinez led the squad with seven combined hits on the night. Improving the giveaway/takeaway ratio still has lots of work that needs to be addressed by Cassidy.
3 – Special Teams needs to improve
Shutting out the Blackhawks certainly looks great on paper when it comes to the Golden Knights in all phases of the game, but looking beyond the game, the special teams still needs to improve in terms of taking chances and controlling the narrative and puck itself. Special teams is the time the team needs to show some urgency. The lack thereof for the Golden Knights needs to come together overall. Against the NHL’s elite teams, they will eventually be exposed.