Thanks to incredible defensive play, incredible goaltending at key moments, and a Reilly Smith hat trick, the Golden Knights came away with a 4-1 victory.
“I liked our game [tonight],” Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said. “I think to hold a team in the NHL to six or eight shots through two periods is a testament to how well you are playing defensively.”
Similar to the game the previous night, Smith once again got the Golden Knights going in the first period. Smith banked a shot off Justin Faulk and past Ville Husso to give Vegas a 1-0 lead.
Later in the period while killing a penalty, Chandler Stephenson scored off a beautiful feed from Alex Pietrangelo to give the Golden Knights a two-goal lead.
The Blues were held in check for the period. Early on, they had a few decent chances on Marc-Andre Fleury, but they all missed the net. They were held to just three shots on goal in the first period and did not record their first shot of the game until 16 minutes in.
The shot suppression continued to hinder the Blues in the second period. The Blues had an outstanding chance midway through the period off a breakaway from Brayden Schenn, but Fleury made the save look easy.
The Blues were held to five shots on goal in the period. Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, that fifth shot went in. Colton Parayko collected a Shea Theodore turnover behind the net and put the backhand shot past Fleury to cut the lead in half.
The Blues made a big push in the third period. They recorded 13 shots on goal in the period, many of which were high danger chances. Marc-Andre Fleury, however, was up to the task and stopped every shot he faced in the period.
Jake Walman took an interference penalty on Alex Tuch 4:11 into the final period, which gave the Golden Knights a chance to take control of the game. They did just that. Smith scored his second goal of the game on the power play to give the Golden Knights a 3-1 lead.
Down two, the Blues got a late power play and a shot to cut into the lead in half once again. Blues captain Ryan O’Reilly had the puck on his stick wide open on the back door but shot the puck straight through the crease.
That O’Reilly chance was the last grasp the Blues had. With the net empty and time ticking away, Reilly Smith iced the game with his first career hat trick to give the Golden Knights a 4-1 win.
“It was a big moment for me,” Smith said. “Obviously I’m happy about it, but there’s a lot of people who helped me put the puck in the back of the net tonight.”
Smith’s hat trick stole the show, but Fleury’s presence in net helped ensure a victory. He finished the game with a .952 sv% and allowed just one goal. He was under siege in the final frame, but did not crack.
The Golden Knights retain their four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche and a five-point lead over the Minnesota Wild. With Saturday’s win they have clinched, at worst, second place in the division.
Second place is not what this team is looking for. The Golden Knights have an opportunity to clinch the division on Monday against the Avs. If they win out, they also have a chance to clinch the President’s Trophy for the first time in team history.
The Golden Knights are set up for a showdown with the Avalanche on May 10 that could very well decide the division. Puck drop will be at 7 P.M. PST.