After failing to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in team history, the Vegas Golden Knights hit the quarter-pole of the 2022-23 season with a Western Conference-leading 31 points while tying the franchise record for the best start after 20 games.
The Golden Knights now play threegames over a four-day stretch in Las Vegas beginning with a contest against the slumping Ottawa Senators on Wednesday night.
Vegas bounced back from a 4-3 overtime loss at Edmonton on Saturday to earn a split of its two-game western Canada trip with a wild 5-4 victory at Vancouver on Monday to improve to 15-4-1, matching its best start for 20 games accomplished in the pandemic-shortened 2020-21 season.
The Golden Knights actually started 16-4-1 in that campaign which ended with a six-game loss to Montreal in the Stanley Cup semifinals.
It looked like Vegas might come up short in matching that start on Monday when it allowed three goals in the span of 4 1/2 minutes early in the third period to fall behind 4-2. But the Golden Knights quickly answered with a pair of goals by William Carrier and Reilly Smith to tie it and, after having a Mark Stone goal waived off because the puck had hit a lens in the camera hole in the glass 14 seconds earlier, scored the game-winner by Alex Pietrangelo with 5:46 remaining.
"A lot of emotions, obviously," Pietrangelo said after his fourth three-point game of the season. "We score and then it gets taken back. But I'll tell you what, it's not easy to win on the road and you've got to give credit to our group. We were resilient no matter what happened. I don't think we waivered after that disallowed goal, got right back at it."
"We don't want it to get to that but resiliency is there, so you take the good and the bad, right?" Stone said. "A 2-1 lead going into the third, you want to lock that down and push the score and put the game away but (we) let them off the hook a little bit. But we found a way to get it done."
Ottawa started a four-game western trip with a 5-1 loss at San Jose on Monday. It was the 10th loss in the last 12 games (2-9-1) for the Senators, who were expected to be one of the league's top turnaround stories this season.
The contest was tied, 1-1, after the first period but San Jose took control with three second-period goals. Ottawa goalie Cam Talbot, who gave up a couple of soft goals to start the period, was pulled for Anton Forsberg after giving up three goals on just seven shots.
"They're trying," Ottawa coach D.J. Smith said of his goalies. "Sometimes it doesn't go your way, and it didn't go our way tonight."
"Parts of this game we played the way, the first period especially, that we wanted to," forward Claude Giroux told the Ottawa Sun. "And in the second period we got away from that. We wanted to have a good start to the road trip. The second period wasn't good enough.
"We're frustrated right now. We want to play the right way and do the right things. We've been saying that (but) we've got to go out there and actually do it."
--Field Level Media