Three takeaways from the Golden Knights’ 7-0 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Friday:
1. Right in the kisser.
James Neal finished with one goal, one assist and a bunch of missing teeth.
The Knights forward went to the locker room with 9:01 left in the first period after taking a high stick from Colorado’s Patrik Nemeth, who was given a double-minor penalty. But Neal returned to start the second with a fat upper lip and went on to score his team-leading seventh goal, which put the Knights up 4-0 with 1:44 remaining in the period. https://www.nhl.com/video/neals-sweet-tip-in-goal/t-290898840/c-53946003
“I think he lost some teeth, but I really don’t know to be honest with you,” Knights coach said Gerard Gallant. “But I’m sure he lost some teeth.”
Neal wasn’t made available to the media after the game to confirm the damage, but it was clear on the TV broadcast that he was missing a few of his beaming-white chiclets.
That didn’t stop him from diving to block a shot with a 7-0 lead in the third period.
“The coach tells us to play 60 minutes,” Knights defenseman Luca Sbisa said. “Like I said before, we have to do it on a consistent basis. You can’t expect to do extra every now and then and hope it works during the next game. It’s consistency.”
2. Middle stanza.
The Knights’ struggles in the third period of multiple games have overshadowed their dominance in the second period.
The Knights haven’t allowed a second-period goal during their five-game winning streak and have outscored opponents 15-2 during the second period overall.
David Perron, Oscar Lindberg, Cody Eakin and Neal scored in the middle period against the Avalanche.
The last time the Knights gave up a goal in the second period was Oct. 13 against Detroit when Henrik Zetterberg scored in the Knights’ 6-3 loss.
Tyler Seguin of Dallas (Oct. 6) is the only other player to score against the Knights in the second period.
“I mean, tonight we scored, and I thought our first half of the second period wasn’t that good. I was a little disappointed,” Gallant said. “But the guys just keep coming getting ready to play. I was really happy with the third period. Of course we score the four goals in the second half of the second period and guys competing and battling hard.”
3. Physical finish.
Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb crushed Colorado’s Alexander Kerfoot along the wall midway through the third period with a hit that could draw the wrath of the NHL Department of Player Safety.
Kerfoot released the puck to teammate Mikko Rantanen while moving through the neutral zone before McNabb unloaded on the rookie forward. Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, the team’s leading scorer last season, immediately came to Kerfoot’s defense and fought McNabb.
Brayden McNabb crushes Alex Kerfoot with a HUGE hit pic.twitter.com/UTblLo4o2x
— Cole Padawer (@HKY_Tweets) October 28, 2017
Kerfoot went to the bench and did not return for the final 9:54 for the Avalanche, who also lost left wing Gabriel Bourque in the first period to an upper-body injury.
Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog took exception to McNabb’s hit afterward.
“If anybody watched the game and saw the hit, it’s not a pretty hit,” Landeskog said. “He leaves his feet and contact to the head right away. Nate does a great job of stepping in and we’ve got each other’s backs, and I’m just glad Alex Kerfoot is all right.”