Slides are going to happen over the course of an NHL season. It’s up to the struggling team to ensure that things don’t spiral out of control beyond that. As it stands, the Vegas Golden Knights seem to be showing the rest of the league precisely how it’s done.
Last Monday, Vegas dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Calgary Flames, losing for the seventh time in their past 10 games and extending a streak of offensive futility that had seen them score just three goals in their previous four.
From there, though, in the face of articles by certain scribes calling out to Golden Knights’ top offensive weapons, things quickly turned around. Starting just the next night in Edmonton, the club began a stretch that has seen them score 19 times over five games, going 3-0-2.
Top Guys Step Up
Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was those same big name forwards at the top of the lineup who delivered. Visiting Vancouver last Thursday in a battle of top teams in the Pacific Division, Jack Eichel recorded a goal and an assist in his 500th career NHL game. That game proved to be something of a tipping point for the 27-year-old, setting off a stretch in which Eichel has collected four goals and nine points in the last four games.
Two days later against the Washington Capitals, it was Jonathan Marchessault’s turn. The reigning Conn Smythe winner opened the scoring in the first period and sealed the 4-1 win with an empty netter, tallying his first two goals in seven games. In the Golden Knights’ return home following a three-game road trip, the team – led by Marchessault, Eichel and captain Mark Stone, looked far different than the group that was blanked 2-0 by the Arizona Coyotes in their previous showing at T-Mobile Arena.
On Wednesday, Eichel and Marchessault were at it again, helping Vegas respond to being stymied by Jordan Binnington and the St. Louis Blues (2-1 overtime loss) by rallying to beat those same Blues. The duo led Vegas in overcoming a 3-1 deficit, scoring a goal apiece as part of a four-goal second period in a 6-3 win.
The resurgence of the Golden Knights’ offensive attack has solved a lot of the team’s recent problems. Beyond putting more pucks in nets and re-engaging the top-six forward corps, this offensive onslaught has helped ease the pressure on a blue line that remains without Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez, not to mention a crease that is currently lacking No. 1 goaltender Adin Hill.
And of course, a few more wins and some added breathing room atop the Pacific don’t hurt, either.