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3 takeaways from Knights’ win: Spooky Canadiens provide scare — PHOTOS

Updated October 31, 2023 - 6:12 am

It seemed only fitting that in a rink filled with Barbies, Kens and Ted Lassos the day before Halloween, the Montreal Canadiens put a scare into the Golden Knights.

That ended up being all the young team could muster.

The Canadiens, off to a surprising 5-2-2 start, played with energy, effort and enthusiasm Monday in front of an announced crowd of 17,791 at T-Mobile Arena. They outshot the defending Stanley Cup champions 39-26 and controlled the puck for long stretches.

When push came to shove, however, the Knights still would not be beaten. They survived a few harrowing moments in their third game in four nights, made a few plays and emerged with a 3-2 shootout victory that improved them to 9-0-1 on the season.

The Knights and the Boston Bruins are the only two teams in the NHL who have yet to lose in regulation.

“That is definitely a positive of this group,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Even when we’re not on our A game, we find ways to gut it out with our B game, and then a couple of guys will almost step up with their A game. … I find we’re always able to have a guy or two that will help us out of those lulls.”

All the signs of a sloppy showing were there for the Knights.

They took four penalties. They hit a post as many times as they hit the net in the second period (twice). The first goal they gave up was a gift thanks to a giveaway from goaltender Adin Hill.

It’s not the first time in the Knights’ season-opening 10-game point streak that they’ve had stretches they’d rather forget. Once again, they did enough in the end.

The Knights took a 1-0 lead with 4:54 remaining in the first period on a power-play goal from left wing Paul Cotter. Hill was the one that evened the score, misplaying the puck on the man advantage to hand center Sean Monahan an equalizer 5:38 into the second.

“Kind of just whiffed on the pass there,” said Hill, who finished with a season-high 37 saves. “Outside the one mistake, I felt like I had a good game. So it’s just reminding yourself, ‘Hey, I feel good and just keep going.’”

The Knights, despite playing a poor middle frame overall, still went back to the locker room with the lead thanks to a rush goal from left wing William Carrier. He put his team up 2-1 with 1:50 left before the second intermission.

Montreal refused to go away.

The Canadiens led in shots on goal 17-6 in the third period and tied the game with 4:18 left in regulation on a goal by captain Nick Suzuki, a former Knights prospect.

Montreal just couldn’t find the knockout blow.

Goaltender Sam Montembeault kept the game alive with a penalty-shot save on center Jack Eichel and a fantastic stop on defenseman Alex Pietrangelo in overtime. He then came up short in the shootout.

Hill stopped three of the four attempts he faced for his 50th NHL win. Right wing Jonathan Marchessault, a Quebec native, and defenseman Shea Theodore scored on their tries to give the Knights the victory.

“We know we have to play better, right?” captain Mark Stone said. “You never want to give up (almost) 40 shots to a team that traveled yesterday (with) a three-time-zone change. You want to jump on those teams and kind of impose your will. We’ll regroup and touch up a few things.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Cotter nearly does it again

Cotter almost scored a goal Monday as cool as his game-tying, highlight reel tally against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 24.

He split two defenders on a delayed penalty, but his shot hit the post.

The 23-year-old still found the scoresheet against the Canadiens in a less intentional way. Cotter appeared to try to pass to teammate Ivan Barbashev in the slot during a first-period power play, but the puck bounced off Montreal defenseman Mike Matheson and into the net instead.

It was Cotter’s third goal of the season, tied for the lead on the Knights.

2. Will power

Two different Williams played an important role for the Knights.

Carrier, a Quebec native, scored in consecutive games for the seventh time in his eight-year NHL career. He recorded his first goal of the season Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.

William Karlsson picked up an assist on Cotter’s goal to extend his point streak to seven games, matching his personal best. Karlsson leads the Knights with 11 points.

3. Penalty-kill prowess

The Knights’ short-handed play continues to keep them in games this season.

They were 4-for-4 against Montreal and surrendered just five shots in eight minutes on the penalty kill. The Knights are 26-of-29 overall this year. Their 89.7 percent success rate on the penalty kill ranks fifth in the NHL.

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

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