Nicolas Roy scored the go-ahead goal with 6:37 remaining on a breakaway to help lift the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.
After Sam Bennett inexplicably fell down in the Vegas zone at the exact moment Gustav Forsling decided to pinch in from the left point, Roy took possession of the puck and sped the other way before solving Spencer Knight with a forehand-to-backhand move.
The decisive goal came fifty-seven seconds after the Panthers rallied to forge a 3-3 tie. Ugh...
Carter Verhaeghe opened the scoring 8:04 into the first period. After getting behind the defense and taking a pretty pass from Eetu Luostarinen, Verhaeghe hit the side of the net with his first shot, but was able to find the rebound and shoot past a now out of position Logan Thompson. Aaron Ekblad hit the 40-assist mark with the secondary helper.
The Golden Knights knotted the tilt at 17:09 when Keegan Kolesar sent Michael Amadio and Brett Howden into the Panthers zone. Amadio crossed to Howden, who was able to gather in the pass and switch it to the forehand before trying to go back to Amadio. The return pass deflected into the net off of Brandon Montour.
Evgenii Dadonov would haunt his old mates with two second period goals to give Vegas a two-goal advantage.
After Luostarnien couldn’t handle a pass from Montour at center ice, Derrick Pouilot, playing in his first NHL tilt since November 30, 2019, sent the puck up to Dadonov, who gained the line and then cut around Forsling before beating Knight at 5:38 with a wrister from the inner edge of the right circle.
Dadonov would deflect Shea Theodore’s shot from the point past Knight with 5:28 left in the frame and Vegas on a power play. Jack Eichel got the faceoff win against Aleksander Barkov and Dadonov immediately hacked the puck back to Theodore and went to the front of the net. The goal came six seconds after MacKenzie Weegar was called for tripping.
Sam Bennett would pull the Cats within a goal at the 17:38 mark when he fought through some traffic to take a pass in front from Anthony Duclair, who claimed his own rebound after he was initially stopped by Thompson. Ekblad picked up his second assist on the night on Bennett’s 25th of the campaign.
25 goals on the season for Sam Bennett pic.twitter.com/cS60BgnTEk— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 18, 2022
The Panthers would convert on a power-play at 12:26 of the third to tie the score. Barkov passed back to Ekblad at the right point and he blasted a shot that might’ve caught a piece of Alex Pietrangelo, and then definitely caught a piece of Sam Reinhart and the post before turning on the red light. Ekblad’s third assist of the night gave him 291 points in the NHL (97G/194A), moving him past Robert Svehla for the most by a defenseman in Florida history.
Florida was on the hunt for another goal before Bennett’s ill-timed tumble lead to Roy’s eventual game-winner. Bennett would have a “hand” (or not) in William Karlsson empty-net clincher as he couldn’t corral Reinhart’s bouncing centering pass and Wild Bill steamed up ice and applied the final nail in the coffin from just above the blue line with 1:50 to go.
After finding a way to take three of four points in Los Angeles and San Jose, the Cats simply found ways to lose this one while the opportunistic Golden Knights took advantage to end a franchise-record, five-games in regulation losing streak. A frustrating result considering the Panthers had the momentum late after rallying and they were facing Vegas’ third string goalie, who finished up with 33 saves. The Panthers will get right back at it tonight in Anaheim in a game that will decide the road trip. Win and they return home with five points, which is a pretty solid result, lose and the trek west isn’t looking so good.
Swords & Tequila
- Cue up the Sheryl Crow... The Panthers are leaving Las Vegas with another loss. They have dropped all three games (0-2-1) played at T-Mobile Arena. This one ended the team’s seven-game (6-0-1) point streak.
- Speaking of point streaks, Jonathan Huberdeau had his six-game run come to end. Huberdeau now trails Connor McDavid by three points in the Art Ross Trophy race.
- Veteran Derrick Pouliot, who was toiling in the AHL with the Henderson Silver Knights, signed a one-year contract with Vegas prior to the game. In addition to his assist, he had two hits and blocked a shot in 14:22 of ice time.
- Spencer Knight made his third straight start and stopped 28 of 32 shots. The rookie did a pretty solid job as two of the four goals were off deflections.
- Evgenii Dadonov’s brace gave the ex-Cat 14 goals on the season with 19 games left to go. That’s one more goal than he scored last year with the Ottawa Senators after leaving Florida as an unrestricted free agent.
- Radko Gudas dished out a game-high 12 hits, blocked a shot and was credited with a takeaway.
- For more on the season series splitter, step up to the table at Knights on Ice.