It was the play of the game, if not one of the biggest plays of the season (feels like we’ve said that a lot, hopefully this one actually sticks). Having given up a 3-1 lead, Vegas could have easily skated out the period and secured at least a point in Carolina. However, the Hurricanes gave the Golden Knights one more chance to come away with a win. And that’s exactly what they did.
The late-game power play allowed Vegas to execute a perfectly set up game-winning goal. The beautifully designed tic-tac-toe sequence by Shea Theodore, Paul Statsny and Alex Tuch clinched a wild game for the Golden Knights. Not only was it a big goal for Tuch, but for the new coaching staff as well.
It was a good play by Theo and Stas, something we were kind of looking to do and we were able to execute. I just put my stick on the ice and made sure I hit the net. -Alex Tuch
The play began with a faceoff won by Stastny, purposely to his left, which Mark Stone jumped on and fed out to Theodore. Instead of taking his own shot, giving the puck back to Stone or Max Pacioretty to his right, the defenseman walked the blue line with the puck, opened up the seam and then used a little shot pass to feed the puck through an incredibly tight window to Stastny.
Theodore’s stutter-step/fake shot shifted the defense and goaltender just enough to find an open passing lane to Stastny who was waiting on one side of the net.
Knowing the puck was coming to him, he quickly directed the pass across the crease and on to the stick of Tuch, who tapped in the game-winner.
From the initial pass by Stone, to Theodore’s shot fake, to Stastny’s quick touch pass, each player knew exactly where the others would be. You’ll even notice Pacioretty charging in behind Tuch ready to scoop up any rebounds in case the puck was blocked. Or perhaps as a secondary option. Either way, all five players did their job and the execution paid off.
Head coach Pete DeBoer said after the game it wasn’t perfect, but the ability to go into last night’s game with limited time, and win in that fashion says a lot. Newly hired Steve Spott also helped prove the new coaches could quickly make their mark. And in crunch time.
They pushed hard in the third and we got a little bit sloppy at moments but overall, I think in the four games I’ve been here, that’s probably the most solid game we’ve played. -DeBoer
The last time Pete DeBoer and Steve Spott’s team scored a power play goal against the Hurricanes (10/16/19), the play looked fairly similar.
An argument can be made that this is just a good solid hockey play and happens around the league every night. But another argument can be made that a draw is won, sent out to the point, the defenseman walks the line, pulls a little shot fake, then threads the needle to his forward who puts it in. Did Steve Spott see something in the Hurricanes penalty kill and exploit it in his first game behind the bench in Vegas? I’ll leave the gavel in your hand to make a ruling.
Back to the Golden Knights. The next challenge is Nashville, and again with very little time, it’ll be interesting to see what else can be tweaked. Set plays won’t always work like this one did, but it was clear everyone understood the plan, which is a major victory for DeBoer and his coaching staff.