The Vegas Golden Knights snapped their three-game home losing streak Thursday, Dec. 21 defeating the Arizona Coyotes, 5-2. Captain Mark Stone finished the night with three points (two goals, one assists).
All three of his points came in the last 11:04 of the game.
“We got our game back which is encouraging,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It doesn’t matter who you play, you have to be able to put it behind you and get going again. That was a key to the game tonight.”
With the win, Vegas is now 23-11-1 in the Pacific Division with 47 points on the season. They continue to hold a six-point lead over Los Angeles and trail Boston by five-points for the most in the NHL.
The third period was the period of the Golden Knights that a lot of the VGK faithful had been waiting for over the past several home games. Vegas poured in three goals in the third period to take a multi-goal lead on two separate occasions.
Thursday’s game was the first time in eight home games that Vegas has scored more than two goals in a game. The last time the Knights scored three or more goals in a home game before Thursday was Nov. 23 when they beat Ottawa, 4-1.
Vegas will wrap up their four-game homestand on Friday as they welcome in the St. Louis Blues to T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
While the score was tied at zero at the end of the first period, the Knights generated a lot of chances at the net and the shots on goal category showed it. Vegas led the SOG category 13-4 at the end of the first.
Arizona’s Karel Vejmelka saved 29 of the 34 shots he faced for a final save percentage of .853. VGK goalie Logan Thompson countered with 21 saves on the 23 shots he faced for a final save percentage of .913.
“The guys have been great,” Thompson said, “It’s about time we were rewarded. They got to the net; they took away the goalie’s eye which is something I think we need to do more of. It worked tonight and that’s how we got to score some goals. You got to get gritty sometimes.”
Center Chandler Stephenson extended his point streak to six games which is a season high. He assisted on two of the Vegas goals.
The second period started strong for the Knights who were able to draw an Arizona penalty for too many men on the ice. That penalty was converted into a goal by defenseman Daniil Miromanov 3:27 into the period. This was Miromanov’s first career goal at T-Mobile Arena and second career NHL goal.
Miromanov’s goal was responded to 1:18 later when defenseman Juuso Valimaki wrapped around Logan Thompson to jam in a goal that tied the game at one.
“[Miromanov’s] offensive part of his game I’ve said has been good from day one,” Cassidy said. “I think his composure is heads up when he has the puck. He’s not panicking. Even below the goal line, he’s made some moves against pressure and allowed for some easier breakouts. We want him to shoot on the power play if that’s the open shot. He has an NHL shot and NHL puck skills.
"For Miro, we’ve said it’s about learning how to defend; take care of the hard areas in front of the net, back of the net, and close on people.”
Vegas has killed off all seven penalties they have faced over the past four games and have not allowed a power play goal since Dec. 13 when Winnipeg scored one to open the third period.
“I think we’re just getting better chemistry between forwards and defensemen,” Stone said. “[Knowing] when to jump in certain spots. I think there was a little indecision early on in the season of who was going where. I think now, you can see it’s just more fluid, we’re causing more turnovers and getting more 200-foot clears because everyone knows where each other is.”
While on the topic of special teams, the Vegas power play went 2-for-4 on the night, continuing their December success. Since the turn of the calendar from November to December, Vegas has been able to get into the top-10 in power play percentage for the NHL.
A penalty kill that has had success recently along with a power play that is converting in nearly every game in December has helped the Golden Knights alleviate some of the struggles the team has faced, especially at home.