NHL Hockey

Golden Knights look to continue run versus Canucks

Mark Stone has scored just one assist in three games since being acquired by Vegas from the Ottawa Senators at the NHL trade deadline on Monday. But to hear Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant tell it, the move was key to waking his team out of a midseason slumber.

Vegas, which went from Pacific Division contenders to just trying to hold onto third place during an ugly 3-9-1 span, has rebounded to win all three games with Stone in the lineup heading into Sunday afternoon's home game with the Vancouver Canucks.

"When we made the trade for Stone, I think a lot of people said, 'Let's get it going, we're a better team than this,'" Gallant said after a 3-0 victory at Anaheim on Friday night.

Vegas briefly saw its lead over fourth-place Arizona shrink to four points before pulling out a 6-5 overtime home victory over Florida on Thursday night. That was followed by the shutout of the Ducks, so the Golden Knights entered Saturday's action with a much more comfortable eight-point edge.

"It was getting a little frustrating for everybody," said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who had 34 saves while regaining the NHL lead for shutouts (seven) and wins (31) in the win at Anaheim. "It's a nice feeling (to win three in a row)."

Several Golden Knights said having a veteran like Fleury in nets is also a nice feeling.

"He's been awesome all year," center Jonathan Marchessault said. "He's out best player. He's our MVP every year."

Forward Alex Tuch also raved about Fleury after Friday's shutout.

"At this point, we're all getting used to it," Tuch said. "He's an unbelievable player. I think he's the best goalie in the league. He just keeps climbing up the record boards and making history."

The win over Anaheim was the 435th career victory for Fleury, who moved within two wins of Jacques Plante for eighth place on the NHL's all-time wins list. Fleury also moved into 21st place with his 55th career shutout.

Vancouver enters Sunday's contest 12 points behind the Golden Knights and is tied for fifth place with just 17 games remaining but has a big chance to cut into that margin this week. The Canucks play Vegas twice in a six-day span with the rematch on Saturday night in Vancouver. The Golden Knights, meanwhile, will also play Western Conference leading Calgary on Wednesday in Las Vegas and then again Sunday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

"Continue to play hard," Canucks coach Travis Green told the Vancouver Sun when asked what his team's theme for the rest of the season will be following a key 5-2 loss at Arizona on Thursday night.

Vegas and Vancouver have split the first two matchups this season. The Canucks won the first meeting 3-2 on a shootout goal by Markus Granlund on Oct. 24 in Las Vegas while the Golden Knights, behind two goals by Max Pacioretty and 33 saves from Fleury, picked up a 4-3 victory on Nov. 29 in Vancouver.

--Field Level Media

Updated March 2, 2019

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