Stone-fueled Knights visit struggling Ducks
The Vegas Golden Knights were hoping a trade-deadline deal for Ottawa Senators winger Mark Stone would provide just the jolt the team needed to get out of a six-week funk.
So far, so good.
Vegas, which had lost three straight games and was just 5-11-1 over a 17-game span prior to the Monday trade, will bring a two-game winning streak into a Friday night road game against the Anaheim Ducks. Or, as the Vegas twitter account reported, the Golden Knights are 2-0-0 in the #StoneAge even though Stone as yet to register a point.
The Golden Knights followed up a physical 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday night with a wild 6-5 shootout victory over the visiting Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
Shea Theodore scored the game-winner in the second round of the shootout when he deked Panthers goalie Roberto Luongo and then beat him with a backhand. Golden Knights goalie Malcolm Subban, with the aid of the goal post on a shot by Jonathan Huberdeau, stopped all three Florida tries for his fourth win of the season.
It was an important victory for Vegas. The Golden Knights maintained a six-point lead over Arizona, which has won five straight games, for third place in the Pacific Division. The Coyotes had briefly crept within four points of the Golden Knights earlier in Thursday evening with a 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks.
"A big two points," said Vegas winger Reilly Smith, who scored two goals, including one he shot between his legs. "Shea did a great job icing that, and the same with Subb in the shootout. Those are important points for us."
"I think the perseverance was really good," added Golden Knights defenseman Colin Miller, who scored his first goal since Thanksgiving weekend to snap a 24-game drought. "After the first period (when Vegas trailed 3-1), we came in and said, 'Enough's enough.' We want to have a turning point in the season here where we're stringing some games together, stringing some really good periods together."
Anaheim finds itself in a different type of race down the stretch, trying to avoid finishing in the Pacific Division cellar. The Ducks, who have a three-point lead over the last-place Los Angeles Kings, have lost four straight, including a 4-3 heartbreaker to the visiting Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday when Patrick Kane netted the game-winner on an odd-man rush with 16.1 seconds remaining.
"I thought we played a good hockey game," Ducks assistant coach Mark Morrison told NHL.com. "We made some mistakes five or six minutes in the game, but there was definitely more offense from us. More off the rush and more in the offensive zone. We played hard."
Anaheim is 3-10-0 since the All-Star break and was a seller at the trade deadline. The Ducks sent defenseman Brandon Montour to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2019 first-round draft pick and 21-year-old defenseman Brendan Guhle, and they dealt defenseman Michael Del Zotto to the St. Louis Blues for a 2019 sixth-round pick.
This is the fourth and final meeting of the season between the two teams. Vegas won each of the three previous contests, including a 3-2 victory at Anaheim on Jan. 4 in the most recent meeting.
--Field Level Media
Updated March 1, 2019