December 26, 2017 - 12:12 pm
Updated December 26, 2017 - 12:25 pm
The Golden Knights sit atop the Western Conference based on points percentage and are 23-9-2 in their inaugural season.
Here are the five games that solidified the Knights’ place among the NHL’s best teams:
1. Dec. 19 vs. Tampa Bay (4-3 win) — Propelled by a raucous crowd at T-Mobile Arena, the Knights went stride for stride with the top team in the NHL. Shea Theodore’s one-timer with 2.3 seconds remaining gave the Knights the victory, and afterward, Lightning forward Steven Stamkos said, “It was the best atmosphere I’ve played in in a regular-season game in a long time.”
2. Dec. 14 vs. Pittsburgh (2-1 win) — In his second game back after missing two months with a concussion, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 24 of 25 shots against his former team. Seldom-used defenseman Jon Merrill blasted in the winning goal 8:17 into the third period to give the Knights an emotional victory over the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.
3. Dec. 8 at Nashville (4-3 shootout win) — The Knights showed they can win in a difficult road environment against the favorite in the Western Conference. After Nashville took the lead with a little more than five minutes remaining, Erik Haula scored with 39.9 seconds left to send the game to overtime. Malcolm Subban stopped all six Nashville attempts in the shootout, before Reilly Smith converted to give the Knights two points.
4. Nov. 19 vs. Los Angeles (4-2 win) — A rivalry was born, as a season-high 18,211 at T-Mobile Arena saw the Knights chase Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick with three goals— two by William Karlsson — in the opening 11:22. The Kings made a late push before Alex Tuch’s empty-net goal with 1:02 remaining brought the Knights within one point of Los Angeles atop the Pacific Division standings.
5. Oct. 24 vs. Chicago (4-2 win) — The Knights’ record start was supposed to come to a screeching halt against one of the early favorites for the Stanley Cup. But Oscar Dansk made 29 saves in his first NHL start with Fleury and Subban sidelined due to injury, and the Knights overcame an early 1-0 deficit with four straight goals. Tomas Nosek finished with a goal and an assist to help the Knights improve to 7-1.