February 21, 2018 - 10:28 pm
Updated February 22, 2018 - 12:46 am
He didn’t get an assist in the Golden Knights’ 7-3 win over the Calgary Flames Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena, but Tommy Cruz certainly deserved one.
Cruz, the team’s video coach, thought Sean Monahan was offside after he scored to tie the game 4-4 1:29 into the third period. He notified the bench, coach Gerard Gallant challenged the goal and was able to get it overturned. Less than two minutes later, Luca Sbisa scored to make it 5-3 and the Knights were on their way to an historic evening.
With the win, the team set an NHL record for points by an expansion franchise with 84, passing the 1993-94 Florida Panthers, who had 83 points. They also surpassed the 1979-80 Hartford Whalers’ 22 home victories with their 23rd triumph at T-Mobile.
The seven goals also matched the franchise’s single-game best. The Knights had seven goals against Colorado in a shutout on Oct. 27.
“That was a pretty ballsy call,” Knights forward Alex Tuch said of Gallant’s challenge. “Tommy knows the rules better than anyone, and he obviously knew it was offsides.”
Sbisa, who registered his 101 career point after adding an assist to his third-period goal, said: “That was the turning point. It’s a much different game if it’s 4-4.”
First-period goals from Ryan Carpenter, his sixth, and William Karlsson’s 31st, coming on a power play with 31 seconds remaining, staked the Knights to a 2-1 lead. Calgary, which didn’t have a shot on goal until 8:51 remained in the period, had briefly tied it on TJ Brodie’s tip-in of Travis Hamonic’s slap shot at 16:45.
The teams exchanged goals over the first 1:18 of the second period. First, it was Calgary’s Dougie Hamilton beating Marc-Andre Fleury over his shoulder with a wrist shot 20 seconds in. Then Reilly Smith put the Knights back up 3-2 as he knocked in a loose puck in the crease after Colin Miller’s slap shot had been partially stopped by David Rittich, who was starting for the Flames in goal for the injured Mike Smith.
For Smith, it was his 20th goal as he became the fifth Knights player to reach 20 or more.
But the lead didn’t last. Matthew Tkachuk scored with Erik Haula in the penalty box for hooking as his shot went off Cody Eakin’s skate and past Fleury at 11:07.
However, Tuch got the Knights back in front as he fired a wrist shot over Rittich’s left shoulder at 13:58. David Perron set up the play with a nice cross-ice feed. Perron also assisted on Haula’s third-period goal for his team-leading 41st assist and 55th point.
The Flames thought they had tied it 4-4 1:29 into the third period on Sean Monahan shot. But then Knights won the challenge.
Eakin, who hadn’t scored in 18 games, capped the scoring with a wrist shot from inside the right faceoff circle at 14:18. It was Eakin’s seventh goal.
“I thought we had a lot more energy and determination than Monday (vs. Anaheim),” Perron said. “All four lines were working hard and we kept battling.”