No matter how many games an NHL regular season has, no game’s are alike. Sure, the first few games had similarities, Vegas won all three but didn’t look good doing it.
Something had to break.
We were talking before the game that we hadn’t really pitched in too much… It’s kind of convenient that we did tonight, and I thought it definitely helped our overall game. -Shea Theodore
With the exception of the first few minutes, the Golden Knights put together their best attack of the season and were handsomely rewarded from it. Ten players collected points in Vegas’ 5-2 victory against Arizona and not a single one of them were cheap empty-net points either.
All five goals were examples of how dangerous this club can be. Alex Tuch scored Vegas’ first power play goal of the season, Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty paired up once again, and the star defensemen found the net three times.
New guy gets his first!
— NHL (@NHL) January 21, 2021
Clearly, the Golden Knights paid Alex Pietrangelo in full to create more offense from the blue line. Last night was the first example of how Vegas will benefit when the right-handed defenseman is firing point shots. Add in Theodore’s ability to score from anywhere and this team is more than just a top-six threat.
Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said it several times, when Vegas slings the puck from the point, good things usually happen for them. He was right.
They blast the puck. They get a lot of offense off their point. Theodore, blast. Pietrangelo, blast. -Rick Tocchet, Coyotes coach
In their first game against Arizona, the Coyotes set the tempo. The pace was fast and seemed to play into the opposition’s hands. On Wednesday night, Vegas picked up the intensity and it resulted in seven power play opportunities and five goals.
Chandler Stephenson’s acceleration forced a penalty, Jonathan Marchessault’s quick transition and Reilly Smith’s vision set up Theodore, and Tuch flew by defenders with his speed and power on a man-advantage. Vegas’ quick players opened up the ice for the playmakers, and the playmakers fed the defensemen.
Golden Knights fans already appreciate the top two lines, and without them, defense or depth contributions won’t matter. To be a nightly winner and a Stanley Cup contender, Vegas’ top-six needs to score. And so far they have. In four games, the first and second lines earned 23 of 41 individual scoring points, and 10 of the Golden Knights 16 total goals.
Last night’s victory was pieced together like a puzzle. They can’t stay undefeated forever but consistent scoring from their best players and extra offense from the blue line or bottom six is how Vegas will stay in first place through 56 games and then challenge for real first place in May and June.