In the Golden Knights’ first three victories, coach Gerard Gallant still could point to something he didn’t like about his team’s game.
That wasn’t the case Saturday.
“I liked everything,” he said.
The Knights produced their most complete effort through the first eight games, neutralizing first-place Anaheim 3-1 before an announced crowd of 18,375 at T-Mobile Arena.
William Karlsson, Ryan Reaves and Jonathan Marchessault (empty net) scored to help the Knights win their third straight and climb back to .500.
The Knights fired a season-high 45 shots on goal while allowing 18. .
“Our forecheck was amazing,” Marchessault said. “We played fast. We got a lot of shots off — not necessarily quality ones — but we still got good chances. (Anaheim goaltender John) Gibson was good as usual. It was good to get a good home game here.”
Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 17 saves for his 408th career victory and passed Glenn Hall for 10th on the all-time list for goaltenders.
Fleury has allowed two goals in his past three outings and has stopped 69 of 71 shots in that span.
Anaheim’s lone goal came 1:24 into the third period when Ben Street walked out from the corner and tucked the puck through Fleury’s five-hole to cut the Knights’ lead to 2-1.
Rickard Rakell knocked in his own rebound at the end of the second period, but the puck crossed the line after time expired in the period.
“It was maybe a tougher game for me, not many shots,” Fleury said. “I was trying to stay into it, but that’s a goal I want to have. I don’t want to be giving up those goals. Obviously, it put our team in a little bit of a more stressful situation, but the guys did a great job.”
Gibson was spectacular for the Ducks with 42 saves, including a sprawling stop on Reilly Smith with five minutes remaining.
“He’s a great character goalie and he battles hard and doesn’t quit on any shots,” Gallant said of Gibson. “I thought goaltending at both ends was real key. He was outstanding. We should have had seven or eight goals.”
The Knights went 3-1 against Anaheim last season and again capitalized on their speed advantage Saturday, breaking out with ease and peppering Gibson with a barrage of shots in the first two periods.
Reaves gave the Knights a 2-0 lead at 9:04 of the second period when he fought off Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler in front and knocked in a rebound after Gibson stopped the initial drive by defenseman Nick Holden.
Teammate Cody Eakin gave Reaves a bear hug behind the net as Reaves was celebrating his first goal of the season in front of NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
“He came in hot, eh?” Reaves said of Eakin. “I wasn’t done with my celly. I was going to do something for Shaq.”
The Knights put together one of their best periods in the opening 20 minutes.
They had more than twice as many shot attempts as Anaheim (27-12) and held a 15-3 advantage in shots on goal, but it took until late in the period for the Knights to get on the scoreboard.
With Ducks winger Kiefer Sherwood in the penalty box for hooking, Karlsson redirected Marchessault’s shot past Gibson with 13.7 seconds remaining in the period. It was Karlsson’s second goal in as many games after he was held without a goal in the first six games.
“We played a good team and controlled the play a lot,” Fleury said. “It’s still early in the season, but when the playoffs come around and you need topush to make it, getting those early points to help you win the race.”
1. Bruise brothers. The Golden Knights’ fourth line of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, William Carrier and Ryan Reaves made an impact in limited ice time. The group created 12 shots on goal, led by Carrier’s six, and punished Anaheim’s defensemen on the forecheck with a combined 12 hits.
2. Shame for Flower. Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up a penalty 1:29 into the second period when he tripped up Anaheim’s Rickard Rakell. It was the first penalty of the season for Fleury, who had three minors last season and has at least one penalty in 11 straight seasons.
3. Staying hot. Jonathan Marchessault finished with a goal and an assist and has points in six of the Knights’ eight games. Marchessault leads the team in scoring with five goals and 10 points.