For now, it’s Malcolm Subban’s net.
The 23-year-old backup goaltender who was thrust into a starting role for the Golden Knights in the wake of Marc-Andre Fleury’s concussion last Friday inspired his teammates with his 20-save performance in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Boston at T-Mobile Arena.
Subban, who had played in two NHL games prior to Sunday, said he still has plenty of room to grow as the Knights host Buffalo at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the fourth game of the team’s seven-game homestand.
“I thought I played pretty good,” he said. “The biggest thing was my depth and not getting too deep in the net. Give myself the better opportunity to make the save. I feel like I did that (Sunday).
“There weren’t too many high chances. A lot of textbook saves and just having good rebound control. I’m happy to get the win.”
Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said his team could’ve made Subban work a little harder.
“We know Malcolm well and he is a good first-shot goaltender,” Cassidy said. “We wanted to put some stress on him with the second ones and I don’t think we did a very good job.”
Part of that was because the Knights’ defensemen and forwards did a great job of not allowing many second chances. The forwards in particular made sure they were helping out in the defensive zone and gaining control of the puck before the Bruins could.
“It was a great team effort,” defenseman Deryk Engelland said. “Everybody working together in front of Malcolm and making good plays.”
Forward William Karlsson said it’s everyone’s responsibility to defend when you lose possession, regardless of who’s in goal.
“It’s crucial every game to have a reload and backcheck and help the (defensemen) out and the goalie, too,” he said. “That’s just a part of our game, and hopefully we can continue that throughout the season.”
Knights coach Gerard Gallant said when everyone is on the same page as was the case Sunday, good things are going to happen.
“Anytime you’re going to have success in this league it’s about your forwards working hard with your defensemen,” Gallant said. “We always talk about five-man connection; it’s a big word for our team. When you play five men in the D-zone, you play five men in the neutral zone and you play five men offensively you’re going to have a chance to win most nights.”
The Knights also performed better over the final 20 minutes Sunday, something they hadn’t done in their previous two games.
“Obviously the last two third periods have been awful for us so I thought the guys really competed,” Gallant said. “We had a lead again and we were up 2-0 in the third. The guys kept playing hard and they didn’t give Boston a whole lot.
“We played a good, solid, hard-working game. It wasn’t a game like the other night where it was a lot faster paced. (Sunday) was more of a checkers match; there wasn’t a whole lot of scoring chances either way. I thought we played a good, solid game and it was a good, solid defensive effort for sure.”
Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.
Sabres vs. Knights
— When: 7 p.m. Tuesday
— Where: T-Mobile Arena
— TV: AT&T SportsNet (Cox 313/1313, DirecTV 684, CenturyLink 760/1760, U-verse 757/1757)
— Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM); ESPN Deportes (1460 AM)
Storylines to follow
1. Subban’s net. Malcolm Subban got the job done Sunday against Boston with 20 saves and allowing a goal with 30 seconds left in the Knights’ 3-1 win. With Marc-Andre Fleury on the IR with a concussion, it’s his net for now and does his confidence grow and that of his teammates in him given Sunday’s performance against the Bruins?
2. Shippy encore. Vadim Shipachyov’s NHL debut was just what the 30-year-old Russian center hoped for. He scored, he was engaged at both ends of the ice and he helped the Knights win. Can he build off his initial success?
3. Struggling Sabres. Buffalo was 0-4-1 before winning Sunday in Anaheim. Still, the Sabres did not get the start they were looking for after changing their front office and their head coach. Will first-year coach Phil Housley stick with Chad Johnson in goal after Johnson backstopped his team to their only win? Or does he go back to Robin Lehner, who has yet to win in four starts?
— Steve Carp, Las Vegas Review-Journal