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3 takeaways from Knights’ win: Punishing Avs with dominant effort

Updated November 4, 2023 - 11:23 pm

Mark Stone lifted both of his arms high in the air and twirled his right glove twice after his second short-handed goal.

The Golden Knights captain called his team’s matchup with the Colorado Avalanche a “see-where-we’re-at” type of game Saturday morning — a chance for the 2023 Stanley Cup winners to make a statement against the 2022 champs.

Stone made sure the rest of the NHL wouldn’t like what it saw.

He recorded four points, center Jack Eichel scored twice on the two-year anniversary of his trade, and goaltender Adin Hill was brilliant in a 7-0 Knights’ demolition in front of an announced crowd of 18,512 at T-Mobile Arena. They improved to 11-0-1 and became the 10th team in NHL history — the first since the 2013 Chicago Blackhawks — to start a season with a point streak of 12 games or more.

They play again at 5 p.m. Sunday against the Anaheim Ducks.

“We started capitalizing as the game went on, especially in the third,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “And Hilly had a good night for us. I think we were the better team, but I don’t think it was a 7-0 game. So we’re going to take the win and enjoy it, especially Jack. He hadn’t finished in a while, so happy for him. A couple good, solid goals. Stoney short-handed. Obviously a lot of positives.”

All a powerhouse showdown between two of the best teams in the Western Conference did is show which bullies still rule the block.

The Knights looked like their playoff selves against the Avalanche. They blocked a season-high 26 shots while defending the front of their crease with all their might. They pursued pucks like hounds. And they were merciless when given a sniff at a scoring chance, burying a season-high seven goals past goaltender Alexandar Georgiev.

Stone was a central figure in all of it. He scored the Knights’ first and fifth goals, becoming the first player in team history to strike twice short-handed in a regular-season game. He also matched his career high for short-handed goals in a season in one night.

Eichel was almost as good. He snapped a six-game goal drought two years after the Knights made a blockbuster move to get him from the Buffalo Sabres. He scored twice in the second period — with his goals bookending one by left wing William Carrier — to put his team up 4-0 by the second intermission.

Stone and center William Karlsson kept the freight training coming by scoring in the third. Karlsson’s two goals in the final frame extended his point streak to nine games, which ties the longest in Knights history.

The lead never was in danger thanks to Hill. The 27-year-old was sensational in his sixth career shutout, making 41 saves. It wasn’t as if Colorado didn’t have its looks. The Avalanche had nine shots between their three power-play opportunities. Star players like center Nathan MacKinnon got rush chances Hill turned aside.

“When Hiller sees it,” Stone said. “Hiller stops it.”

It was the kind of all-around effort that shows how dangerous the Knights can be when they’re clicking on all cylinders. It was enough to bury a strong Colorado team Saturday night. It might be enough to win a second Stanley Cup if the club keeps this up.

“Stoney and I have been maybe a bit snake-bitten here lately, so it’s good to see us get on the board here,” Eichel said. “But this is what makes our team good. When everyone contributes like tonight, you have a big win.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. McNabb’s passing

Stone’s first goal was possible thanks to a great find from defenseman Brayden McNabb.

The 32-year-old faked a shot at the blue line before finding his teammate on the other side of the net. It was McNabb’s sixth assist in 12 games this season, an impressive total for a player not known for his offensive prowess.

His career high in points is 24, and he’s never scored more than 18 with the Knights.

2. Carrier’s hot streak

Carrier missed Thursday’s win against Winnipeg with an illness, but he sure didn’t miss a beat Saturday.

The 28-year-old’s goal gave him one in each of his last three games. He became the ninth player on the Knights with at least three goals this season. The only other NHL teams with that many three-goal scorers are the Detroit Red Wings and Los Angeles Kings.

3. Whitecloud skates with team

The Knights, if things weren’t going well enough, got a welcome addition Saturday.

Defenseman Zach Whitecloud participated in the team’s morning skate in a red no-contact jersey. Cassidy said Whitecloud, who hasn’t played this season after having surgery for an upper-body injury, is out Sunday against the Ducks but will be evaluated after Tuesday’s practice.

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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