The Vegas Golden Knights opened a two-game road trip against Central Division foes with Tuesday’s frenetic, 6-5 victory at Winnipeg.
“It wasn’t a Picasso,” Golden Knights captain Mark Stone said, “but you need those points, you need those games. Hopefully now we can put our offensive game and our defensive game together, and we’ll be a pretty well-oiled machine.”
Vegas will aim to win consecutive games for the second time in December when it travels to slumping Chicago on Thursday night.
The Blackhawks have been outscored 16-4 during a four-game skid while losing 12 of their past 13 (1-11-1).
Chicago surrendered a hat trick to Washington captain Alex Ovechkin during a 7-3 home loss Tuesday, a flurry that made Ovechkin just the third player in league history to reach 800 career goals.
“Aside from the milestone, it didn’t feel great on our side,” Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. “But lots of respect for him.”
The Golden Knights are no strangers to milestones lately, albeit on a more minute scale. Playing in his hometown Tuesday, Stone scored twice to register his 500th career point.
Meanwhile, Chandler Stephenson matched a career high with four points (all on assists), and Daniil Miromanov tallied his first career goal and three-point game.
Special teams vaulted Vegas, as Jonathan Marchessault scored consecutive power-play goals in a third period that saw the Golden Knights outscore the Jets 3-2. Vegas has collected seven goals on the man advantage in the past seven games.
“Sometimes you need the power play to win us games, and (Tuesday) it did,” Marchessault said. “We just made the right plays at the right time. I don’t think we were forcing too many plays. We were just seeing what was open and we were able to cash in.”
Although Chicago ultimately lost to Washington by four, the Blackhawks twice rallied to pull within a goal of the Capitals, including when Toews scored on the man advantage midway through the second period to bring the Blackhawks to within 3-2.
“I thought we battled back,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “I thought there was a couple of fortunate bounces, and it’s Ovechkin. He scores on those and he makes you pay on those. But we fought back to 2-1 and then 3-2.”
Tyler Johnson netted the Blackhawks’ first goal of the night, scoring in his return after missing 20 games with an ankle injury.
“Obviously, it’s always better when you’re playing games,” Johnson said. “I’m not a big fan of being out. It was nice to be back with the guys, but obviously not quite the result we wanted.”
Vegas blanked visiting Chicago 1-0 on Oct. 13 in the teams’ first of three scheduled meetings this season. Paul Cotter scored a second-period goal for the Golden Knights to back a 27-save shutout from Logan Thompson.
The Blackhawks are set to host the Golden Knights on Feb. 21 to conclude the season series.
–Field Level Media