The Vegas Golden Knights players celebrate after rallying from 3-0 to win in OT, 5-4. (Photo courtesy: John Locher, AP Photo)
LAS VEGAS – It was a riotous affair in Party City as the St. Louis Blues (26-10-7) and Vegas Golden Knights (24-15-6) faced off, with Chandler Stephenson burying the overtime goal for the Knights to win 5-4. The Blues exploded in the first with three goals, as Alex Pietrangelo, Jaden Schwartz and Oskar Sundqvist all scored.
The Blues dominated play for the first half of the game, but goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made some spectacular saves to keep things from getting out of hand. That – with the heavy hitting and gritty work by Vegas – fueled them to get back in it, as former Blues Ryan Reaves and Paul Stastny brought their new clubs back to within one after two periods.
In the third period, it was Nicolas Roy who tied the game early and the Knights erased the 3-0 deficit. After an awkward hit on Cody Glass sent him to the locker room, Reilly Smith received the puck on a bad turnover from Vince Dunn to take the lead, 4-3. David Perron would score on his former club to tie the game and force overtime, but Chandler Stephenson created a breakaway for himself and buried the game winner in overtime on Jake Allen.
“Once they got that scrum, they tried to change their momentum,” Blues forward David Perron commented to Erica Weston. “It doesn’t take much for this building to get into it. We gotta find ways to stay calm, keep making plays and be poised out there.”
The Blues look to snap the 3-game losing skid as they head back home to host the San Jose Sharks on Monday at 7pm CT. Vegas continues the homestand on Tuesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
After a horrible defensive effort against Colorado, the Blues got to work on the right foot, effectively shutting down the Knights after the first couple of shifts. They dominated the flow of the game with their puck possession and team cohesion, as all five players skated circles around the Knights. On the first powerplay of the evening, captain Alex Pietrangelo scored his second powerplay goal in two games after a perfect behind the net pass from David Perron.
The Blues went up 1-0 on the road and didn’t stop there. Later on in the period, Jake Allen made a great stretch pass to the opposite blue line to Ryan O’Reilly, who dropped a pass back to his other wingers for a 2-on-1. David Perron fed Jaden Schwartz, who sniped it perfectly past Marc-Andre Fleury to put the Blues up 2-0.
The Blues only continued to step on the gas after Schwartz’s 14th goal of the season. Less than four minutes later, the third line of Steen, Sundqvist and Barbashev got to work down low and set up a scramble in front of Fleury’s crease. Oskar Sundqvist barreled in to assist on the play and backhanded the puck to score.
The Blues had a 3-0 lead in the first period as they continued to lay waste to Fleury, who remained solid in net despite the goals allowed. After one, the Blues skated off dominating the Knights, 3-0 after the first, outshooting them 11-8.
St. Louis picked up where they left off after the first period and had several Grade-A chances on Marc-Andre Fleury, who remained sharp in his cage in the opening minutes. They were in complete control through the first half of the game, but Vegas would not go quietly. The Knights ramped up the physicality and played hard directly around goaltender Jake Allen. Former Blue Ryan Reaves took advantage of a mad scramble in front of the Blues net and scored an open rebound to cut the Blues lead to 2.
The Knights used their first goal of the game to hit the throttle. The Knights completely tilted the ice in their favor as the hitting and forechecking from them only increased and it burned St. Louis again – William Carrier dangled his way around multiple Blues and fed it perfectly to another former Blue, Paul Stastny, to score again.
The Knights cut the lead back to one as they continued to hammer down on Jake Allen. He made some key saves, while giving up some bad rebound chances, but the Blues defense did just enough to end the period with the lead. St. Louis barely held on to the lead 3-2, outshooting the Knights 24-20.
The Knights continued to drive the play after a dominant half of a period in the second, and it paid off in the third. Nicolas Roy found another rebound left by Jake Allen and put it home to complete the comeback and tie the game.
The snowball didn’t stop rolling there: after a turnover by Vince Dunn in the neutral zone, Chandler Stephenson worked his way around Alex Pietrangelo and dropped it off for Reilly Smith in the slot, and he buried it past Allen to take the lead.
Vegas scored four unanswered goals in less than a 20-minute span to take the lead over St. Louis, 4-3. The middle lines for the Blues stepped up and got to work on the puck, as they registered the first dangerous scoring chances for the squad since the first Vegas goal. With a late powerplay granted to the Blues, David Perron received a feed from Alex Pietrangelo, and he blasted a rare slapshot that caught the right side of iron.
David Perron scored on his former team for the first time, giving him a goal against all 31 active teams and tying it late on the powerplay. The game turned into a track meet going both ways, as both teams tried to burn the other before the end of regulation. Jake Allen made some crucial final stops before the whistle blew, including after the Blues went down 4-on-3 in the final minutes of the game.
After a wild 60 minutes, the Blues and Knights were tied 4-4, as St. Louis forced overtime after coughing up a 3-0 lead. Vegas came out on top in the shot totals after regulation, 31-30.
The crowd at T-Mobile Arena was still on their feet as overtime commenced with the Knights entering the OT 4-on-3.The penalty kill was still rock-solid for the Blues as they eventually tried to take the extra point, but Chandler Stephenson stripped the puck at the blue line and went off to the races on a breakaway, where he scored five-hole on Jake Allen.
The Golden Knights rallied from 3-0 to win in overtime, while St. Louis managed to salvage one point. Jake Allen made 28 saves on 33 shots in the game, while David Perron and Ryan O’Reilly combined for 6 points.
As a former Golden Knight, David Perron recognized the effort needed to be better in the second half of the game. “I think even before that, once they got that scrum, they tried to change their momentum, it doesn’t take much for this building to get into it. We gotta find ways to stay calm, keep making plays and be poised out there.”
The Blues are back at home for 5 games as they host the San Jose Sharks on Monday at 8pm ET. Vegas continues their 7-game homestand, where they could go 5-for-5 against the Penguins.
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