A rivalry is brewing between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Colorado Avalanche.
Within the first two minutes of the game, Keegan Kolesar traded fistacuffs with Dennis Gilbert. The fighting major would not be the only trip to the penalty box for a Golden Knights player in the first frame. As the Golden Knights were plagued by penalties inside the first twenty minutes, three power-play opportunities for the Avalanche, resulted in three penalty kills for the Golden Knights. Chances came in an abundance for the Avalanche as they won the majority of the small battles in the first period. Stick checking, races to the puck and finishing their body checks helped the Avalanche score the game's first goal. Nathan Mackinnon took a one-timer from Mikko Rantanen and snapped it on Marc-Andre Fleury, beating him low on the stick side. The blistering snipe from Mackinnon was his third of the year, his first since January 21st.
For the majority of the second period the game remained rather clean. A lot less penalties were called, yet a power-play chance presented itself for the Golden Knights late in the period. Jacob MacDonald tripped William Carrier, leading to the first special teams chance of the game for Las Vegas. Short lived and well executed, Max Pacioretty fired a shot high from the left face-off circle that found the back of the net. Pacioretty’s eighth goal of the year tied the game up for only a moment. Brandon Saad, scoring his sixth of the year, was able to tie Fleury up with a forceful back-hander, finding Fleury’s five-hole.
Heading into the third with a one-goal lead, Colorado would not be able to keep it that way. Grubauer made a sprawling crossbody save on Reilly Smith, chaos in the crease followed as Jonthathan Marchessualt backhanded the puck with Grubauer laying flat on his stomach. The tying tally was Marchessault’s fifth of the year.
As the final frame dwindled down, the fatal four minutes of the game was playoff type action. End to end races were matched stride for stride, solid saves made on both ends of the rink, a battle between two great teams that would have had T-Mobile Arena in a frenzy. Even without fans though, the energy was sucked out of the Golden Knights after a Nazem Kadri game-winning goal. Kadri, crashed to the net to put away a rebound off of a Fleury save for his fourth goal of the season.
Las Vegas and Colorado aren’t done with each other quite yet, a rubber match between the two will take place up in Lake Tahoe as part of the NHL’s outdoor series. Puck drop will be at three o’clock pacific time on NBCSN.