Ranking the Golden Knights’ 10 best wins of the season after a major coup

Posted Friday, 21 February 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Alec Martinez tried to jump but instead knee-planted into the ice. Mark Stone grimaced and swung haymakers with Deontay Wilder-esque force into the air. Ryan Reaves shouldered into the glass like a hard-hitting safety. Intentional or not, the Vegas Golden Knights’ celebrations after scoring goals in Thursday’s 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning were over the top. And why not? In the middle of the regular season, there’s never going to be a more celebratory occasion than battering the prohibitive Stanley Cup favorite and blighting their NHL season-high 11 game win streak. “There’s a reason why they were there,” Stone said. “They have high-end talent. It’s a big win for us.” That somehow undersells a victory that drove the Golden Knights to tying a season-high four-game win streak and put them in first place in the Pacific Division. Big win? Nah. Biggest win. The Golden Knights showed they can not only beat but blow away anyone in the NHL when they’re at their best and further validated the fortune-changing nature of their current run with new coach Pete DeBoer’s systems now fully in place. The 82-game, six-month regular season can be grueling and unconducive to looking back to past successes but it’s a triumphant place in time for the Golden Knights right now so let’s forget all that and give in. The Lightning win stands alone as the best of the season, but what other victories belong alongside it? Here’s a countdown going through one opinion of the games that make up the rest of their top 10 wins of the season. 10. November 19, 2019 — 4-2 against Toronto This is the Maples Leafs’ loss that got coach Mike Babcock fired, which knowing what’s known now about his abusive behavior towards players, makes it enough to merit inclusion on this list alone. But the Golden Knights also had big moments of their own. They scored twice in two minutes midway through the third period right after the Maple Leafs tied the game at 1-1. Later, Marc-Andre Fleury made his best save of the year by diving across the crease to rob a Nic Petan wrister. 9. November 27, 2019 — 4-3 in overtime at Nashville The Golden Knights didn’t play that well at Bridgestone Arena, getting out-chanced and outshot against a slumping Predators team, but no one’s going to remember that — and for good reason. In terms of pure memorability, this win could stake a claim as the top choice. Max Pacioretty scored with .3 seconds left on the clock to tie the game in regulation, and Paul Stastny made sure the miracle wasn’t in vain with an early overtime goal. The win propelled Vegas to its first four-game win streak of the season. 8. February 17, 2020 — 3-2 against Washington DeBoer said he could tell the Capitals came out angry and determined earlier this week. They had lost three of their last four and were suddenly at danger of ceding the first-place spot in the Metropolitan Division that they had held all year. It didn’t matter; the Golden Knights could take one of the best teams in the league’s best shot and still win. A pair of late T.J. Oshie goals made the victory a little less clean, but that hardly matters given the history between these two franchises that squared off in the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. Any Golden Knights’ win over the Capitals is meaningful going forward, and they’ve now beaten the perennial power two straight times at T-Mobile Arena. 7. February 6, 2020 — 7-2 at Florida For the second time in five days, on a post-All-Star Break road trip with a relatively new coach who admitted all his systems still weren’t fully in place, the Golden Knights outclassed a decent opponent. Stone had his second five-point game as a Golden Knight, with Max Pacioretty chipping in three points, to finish off a Southeastern road trip with a 3-1 record. Vegas dropped the next two games after this win, but looking back, the Florida outburst was an omen of its current run. 6. November 17, 2019 — 6-0 against Calgary From a purely scoring margin perspective, this was the biggest win of the season. It also served as a tourniquet, stopping the bleeding from a five-game losing streak that had inflicted some early panic locally. Fan-favorite William Karlsson had two goals and may or may not have scored again ever since. 5. October 19, 2019 — 3-0 at Pittsburgh Yes, the Lightning and Boston Bruins are the current favorites to win the Stanley Cup in local sports books but the Penguins are slowly creeping up into the same rarefied air. They’ve separated themselves as the 9-to-1 third choice at Circa. Few teams have beaten Pittsburgh the way Vegas beat it this year in what was likely Fleury’s best performance of the season. He haunted his old team, snagging 29 saves and showing he could still be at the top of his game in his 16th NHL season. Fleury has gone on to encounter some struggles, but showings like the one in Pittsburgh should give Vegas fans hope that he may still be capable of turning into the stonewall he was in the 2018 postseason. 4. January 4, 2020 — 5-4 in overtime against St. Louis Let this be the way the end of coach Gerard Gallant’s tenure with the Golden Knights is remembered instead of the ensuing four-game losing streak that led to his firing. Gallant’s final win on the Vegas bench was a doozy as he inspired the team to overcome a 3-0 first-period deficit. That’s not supposed to happen against anyone, let alone the defending Stanley Cup champions. 3. October 2, 2019 — 4-1 against San Jose Sure, it looks a little less impressive in hindsight given San Jose’s season-long ineptitude, but nothing can match the emotion in T-Mobile Arena on opening night when the Golden Knights exacted revenge for last year’s controversial playoff ouster. Stone and Reilly Smith scored in the opening six minutes, and a Sharks’ comeback felt impossible. Vegas also went on to beat San Jose 5-1 on the road two days later, but the first game was even more lopsided statistically. Then-San Jose coach DeBoer may not have fond memories of this one, but it was a highlight for almost everyone else in the locker room. 2. February 13, 2020 — 6-5 against St. Louis Scratch the whole thing about the sequel never being better than the original. In a game reminiscent of the same matchup a month earlier, the Golden Knights managed an unlikely comeback to top the Blues in overtime again. This time, Vegas trailed 4-2 early in the second period before igniting behind an offensive onslaught. The Golden Knights held a 52-24 shots-on-goal edge, as opposed to 33-31 in the first game. Jonathan Marchessault had the game-winner that kickstarted the current win streak — a win streak that makes all sorts of future celebrations appear possible. Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

Other articles published by Las Vegas Sun

Test your knowledge of Memorial Day Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Observed annually on the last Monday in May, Memorial day is set aside to honor the men and women who have died in service to our country. While it didn’t become an official national holiday until 1971, its origins begin with the Civil War. The quiz...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

The coronavirus pandemic may have wiped out college graduation season, but the Las Vegas Valley’s Class of 2020 shines brightly even though it didn’t get its well-deserved turn in the spotlight. Today, we celebrate this year’s graduates from UNLV,...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

In some professions, helping prevent the spread of the coronavirus means working from home or keeping a respectful and safe distance from coworkers at the office. But when your office might be a burning building, social distancing becomes more...

The Notes: Philanthropy, May 25, 2020 Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Christensen Development’s Center Pointe Plaza and Trails Village Center shopping centers partnered with 15 tenants to purchase over $1,000 worth of food from each small business to donate to Summerlin Hospital,...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

During uncertain economic times, the unpredictable act of investing can be made even more unpredictable, local experts say. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic crisis in the United States, money decisions for average investors have certainly...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

If Nevada amateur baseball legends Bryce Harper or Kris Bryant were eligible for this year’s Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, not much would have changed for the sure-thing prospects. They would sign a pro contract, collect a...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start of summer in the U.S. meant big crowds at beaches and warnings from authorities Sunday about people disregarding the coronavirus social-distancing rules and risking a...

Posted Monday, 25 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

NEW YORK — New York Liberty general manager Jonathan Kolb knew that he and first-year coach Walt Hopkins would have to make some tough decisions on the team's roster this year. He just didn't think they'd have to do it so quickly and without seeing...

Posted Sunday, 24 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

ATLANTA — One was a 94-year-old veteran of World War II who was the first of his 11 brothers to enlist in the military. One was a Vietnam veteran who lost his leg overseas and was always touched when people thanked him for his service. Another was...

Posted Sunday, 24 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Eddie Sutton waited so long to be inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. He couldn't hang on long enough to make it to the ceremony. The man who led three teams to the Final Four and was the first coach to take four schools to the...

Posted Sunday, 24 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Immediately after giving his valedictorian speech, high school senior Philip Root, still clad in his cap and gown, climbed into a borrowed race car and drove up to the finish line at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. With the yellow tassel of his graduation...

Ailes’ influence is terrifying Posted Sunday, 24 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

I just finished re-watching Showtime’s important documentary “The loudest voice in the room,” about the jaded career of Fox News creator Roger Ailes. There are millions of responsible conservatives who are devotees of this cable channel. When they...

GOP, Trump are indefensible Posted Sunday, 24 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

The May 17 editorial, “An accommodating GOP, Trump are transforming America into a dictatorship,” was outstanding. You laid out the facts in such a way that they are both concise and undeniable. I encourage you to publish any letters that attempt to...

Trump sending us all into war Posted Sunday, 24 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

We do not have an Ahab obsessed with a white whale. We have a white whale obsessed with its ego and re-election. President Donald Trump says we should be his warriors. We should work, shop, mingle, etc., in crowded spaces. Will there be more coronavirus...

Ayatollah leading Iran back to the past Posted Sunday, 24 May 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

Enough with the absurdities of Donald Trump and his mangling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Enough of all this talk about the tens of thousands of lives that researchers have concluded Trump’s dithering, narcissism, incompetence and intellectual vacuousness ...