Vegas took a trip to Colorado last week to play the Avalanche in a crucial two-game series with first place in the West Division standings on the line.
What unfolded was not quite the trip Vegas was hoping for, but one they learned a lot from following a blowout loss on Thursday, and a bounce back OT win on Saturday.
The Knights now hold a record of 23-8-1.
Game one: Vegas overpowered by the Avalanche 5-1
Offensive star Max Pacioretty got Vegas off to a good start in the first period with a strike courtesy of teammate and team captain Mark Stone.
It was Pacioretty’s 17th goal of the season and Stone’s 27th assist.
The two have transformed into a dynamic duo on the season feeding off one another and establishing one of the top two-man connections in the league.
Unfortunately for Vegas, Colorado showed in the second period why they are one of the most dangerous teams in the NHL and came into the matchup winning seven out of its last eight games.
The Avs went on a scoring barrage that goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and the Golden Knight defense could not withstand.
Four goals from Colorado in the second period mixed with suffocating defense limited the Knights to single-digit shot attempts in a route.
Colorado would tack on an insurance goal in the third to put Vegas away.
The Knights would have a goal taken off the board late after review.
Vegas has shown incredible resilience this season and the positive effects of short-term memory. Vegas has only lost two games in a row twice all season.
Fleury, along with the rest of the team, would bounce back for the second game against Colorado.
Game two: Vegas shows grit in 3-2 OT win
Pacioretty’s heroics and Fleury’s uncanny ability to protect the sin bin showed for Vegas in a much-needed win in game two against Colorado.
Pacioretty was found by teammate Alex Tuch in OT for the game-winning goal.
“As a group we were really disappointed with our effort [Thursday night] and we responded,” Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer said. “What tonight showed when we play our game and dialed into details and execution and the things we have to do to win on the road we’re a hard team to beat. What we learned about them is if you’re off you’re A game even a little bit they’re going to make you look really bad, and that’s what they did in game one.”
In game one, Colorado out-shot Vegas 32-19.
VGK would return the favor in game two out-shooting the Avs, 34-24.
The number 24 speaks to Vegas’ suffocating defense, particularly in the third period where the contest turned into a back-n-forth slug fest.
Left-wing William Carrier, who’s had a quiet season, scored his second goal of the year to kick things off for Vegas.
Martinez added a goal as well. The often-criticized defensemen has turned his play around as of late.
Fleury had an impressive game two following a disastrous game one.
He stopped 22 of 24 shots, including some highlight reel saves in the third period.
Vegas proved why it’s a Stanley Cup contender with a gritty win against Colorado. The win also put Vegas back atop the West Division standings.
With goalie Robin Lehner getting back in the fold and defenseman Alex Pietrangelo figuring to rejoin the team in the coming weeks, look for Vegas to turn the usual regular season dominance into playoff success.