The Golden Knights answered that bell Monday night, shutting out the Colorado Avalanche 3-0.
“We definitely weren't happy with the results of the last couple of games,” Shea Theodore said. “I thought a lot of guys stepped up tonight. I think we played the game pretty solid and even when we weren’t, we had Flower back there standing on his head.”
Prior to Monday night’s game, DeBoer looked to give his team a jump by switching his lines around. In their previous two games, the Golden Knights were jumped on early and were forced to chase the game. In tonight’s game, the VGK flipped that script. Out of the gate, they were fast and decisive with the puck in all three zones. A theme that lasted the entire game. While neither team scored in the period, Nazem Kadri had a golden opportunity to break the ice with under a minute remaining in the opening frame. His shot was denied by Marc-Andre Fleury with a spectacular two-pad stack.
The line juggling DeBoer did gave Alex Tuch an opportunity to play with Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson on the top line. An opportunity he did not waste. Tuch opened the scoring in the second period on the powerplay. He was credited with his second goal later in the period after Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram accidentally deflected the puck into his own net. Jonathan Marchessault added his sixth goal of the season to give the Golden Knights a 3-0 lead late in the second period.
“Tuch has had a great year,” DeBoer said. “He has earned everything he has got with hard work and coming prepared to have a good start to the season. He is a really effective guy.”
The Avs made a push in the third period, outshooting the Knights 15-6. Try as they did though, the Avalanche were unable to break through Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury made big save after big save in the third period to preserve his 3rd shutout of the season, tying John Gibson and Semyon Varlamov for the league lead.
“That is as good as I have seen [Fleury],” Marchessault said. “He’s been unbelievable and a great leader for everybody. We definitely want to battle for him because he battles for us. It has been a treat to see him do well.”
While the entire team played well tonight, both Alex Tuch and Marc-Andre Fleury were spectacular. Tuch made the most of his elevated role and made a strong case to remain there moving forward. Fleury continued his high level of play as well. DeBoer noted a team like Colorado can turn one goal into two or three very quickly, and the Vegas netminder made sure that did not happen. Fleury improved his stats to 7-3 with a goals against average of 1.55 and a .942 save percentage. With the return of Robin Lehner looming, the question is going to be if Fleury has now done enough to make himself the undisputed starter between the pipes. Fortunately, having two elite goaltenders in a condensed season is a good problem to have.
The Golden Knights split this four-game series with the Avalanche at two wins a piece. Even though this game was not necessarily a must win game, it allowed them to move to four points ahead of the Avalanche in the standings. The VGK also moved past the St. Louis Blues to take over sole possession of the Honda West Division. The Golden Knights play the San Jose Sharks Feb. 25 in San Jose in their second of three straight games on the road.