The Golden Knights and Blues managed to give the home crowd a show for the ages. In a back-and-forth game that saw the Golden Knights erase a two-goal lead, the VGK prevailed 4-3 in overtime against the Blues.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game, but we found a way [to win],” Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said. “Over a long season they aren’t all going to be picture perfect, but it was a gutsy win.”
The teams played a relatively even first half in the first period. Jordan Binnington made two key stops early in the period on Alex Pietrangelo and Chandler Stephenson to keep the score even. The Golden Knights broke the ice just over nine minutes into the game on a goal from Reilly Smith.
The VGK had St. Louis on the ropes late in the period, but a short-handed goal from Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly gave the Blues some momentum heading into the first intermission.
The Blues took that momentum from the late O’Reilly goal and ran with it. Out of the gate in the second, they looked like the faster and more dangerous team. Robin Lehner held the fort down as best he could, but the 1-1 tie would not last. Both David Perron and Jaden Schwartz scored to give the Blues a 3-1 lead, and both were goals that Lehner probably would want back.
The Golden Knights had a hard time generating any sort of zone pressure in the second period. When they did, the chances they generated on Binnington were routine saves for him.
In the dying seconds of the period however, Alec Martinez cut the deficit to one off a blast from the point. Golden Knights rookie Peyton Krebs provided an excellent screen in front to take away the eyes of Binnington.
“I can’t say enough about [Peyton Krebs] and how he has stepped in and made a big impact on our hockey club,” Martinez said. “[The shot] certainly wouldn’t have gone in without him standing there.”
Just as the Blues did in the second period, the VGK carried the late momentum from the Martinez goal into the third. Nicolas Roy netted the game-tying goal after a scramble in front of the net.
The Blues did not go away quietly though. After the Roy goal, they pushed hard to try to restore their lead. Lehner, who had been shaky in the second period, was sharp and held off the Blues press. It was Martinez, however, that made the save of the game. After Lehner fell down while tracking the puck, Martinez denied a wrap-around chance from Zach Sanford to keep the score even.
As with most games between these two teams, 60 minutes was not enough to decide the winner. The overtime period did not provide any respite of the heart-pounding action from the third period. Lehner more than made up for his lapses in the second period with three critical saves in the extra frame. Two of which came on clean breakaways.
With time ticking down, Alex Tuch found Jonathan Marchessault skating to the net with no one around. Marchessault buried the chance with 24 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Golden Knights a 4-3 victory over the Blues.
For Vegas, the win has extra meaning. Both Minnesota and Colorado won their match ups Friday night as well. Had Vegas lost, they would have seen their four-point lead (five-point over Minnesota) cut in half. The victory allows them to remain in first place with a four-point advantage and only three games remaining in the season.
The Golden Knights have a short turnaround, as they face off against the Blues on May 8 in a back-to-back. Puck drop is set for 7 P.M. PST.