Updated November 16, 2023 - 9:28 pm
Bruce Cassidy spoke after Thursday’s morning skate about how the action seems to happen faster in Montreal, whether it’s from the high-quality ice, the live boards or the large, vocal crowd at Bell Centre.
The Golden Knights coach couldn’t have offered a better preview of what happened once the teams dropped the puck.
Jack Eichel and Mark Stone each scored power-play goals in the final 1:56 of the third period, and the Knights held on for a chaotic 6-5 victory over the Canadiens in front of an announced crowd of 21,105.
“You’re going to have to win games in completely different ways every night in this league,” Stone said. “You’re going to have to win some of these run-and-gun games along the way. That’s what makes good teams good. I thought we’ve done a pretty good job of just continuing to take what the game gives you.”
One game after being blanked by Washington to open the road trip, the Knights’ offense returned and helped them rally from 2-0 and 3-1 deficits. After Pavel Dorofeyev took a high stick to the mouth from Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher late in the third period to draw a double-minor penalty, the Knights cashed in twice to snap a 4-4 tie.
Eichel sent a wrist shot from the top of the right faceoff circle past Montreal goaltender Cayden Primeau at 18:04 for the go-ahead goal. Stone scored on a wraparound 44 seconds later for what proved to be the game-winning goal after Canadiens defenseman Justin Barron scored in the final minute of regulation.
The Knights finished 3-for-7 on the power play and launched a season-high 14 shots on goal with the man advantage.
“It was good to see us get rewarded,” Eichel said. “We had a lot of opportunities. To be able to come through, special teams was big tonight.”
Knights goaltender Adin Hill allowed a season-high five goals, but improved to 8-1-1.
He made 11 saves in the third period, none bigger than his sprawling stop on Nick Suzuki in the final seconds to preserve the victory.
The Knights trailed 2-0 after the opening period despite controlling play but erupted for four goals in the second. Brett Howden opened the floodgates short-handed at 2:33, and Brayden McNabb had his first goal since Dec. 27, 2022. Jonathan Marchessault snapped a five-game goal drought, and Shea Theodore (power play) also scored.
“It wasn’t the prettiest game defensively, but we got it done and we found a way to win,” Marchessault said. “We needed that. We needed to get back in the win column.”
Here are three takeaways from the win:
1. Tilting the ice
The Knights deserved more from the first period, but hockey works in strange ways.
They held an 18-6 advantage in shots on goal after 20 minutes. The shot attempts were 42-17 in favor of the Knights, but it was 2-0 on the scoreboard as Montreal scored on two of its first five shots.
Before Alex Newhook opened the scoring on the Canadiens’ first shot 6:43 into the game and defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic added a goal on his team’s fifth shot against Hill, the Knights already had a handful of prime chances turned aside by Primeau.
The shot attempts ended 93-51 in favor of the Knights, their most since logging 95 shot attempts in a 3-1 loss to St. Louis on April 7, 2021, according to the website NaturalStatTrick.com.
“I think six (goals) was probably pretty light tonight with all the chances we had,” Stone said. “I thought we did a good job of staying with the program.”
2. Karlsson contributes
William Karlsson’s 28.6 shooting percentage is unsustainable for an entire season, and it all seemed to even out against the team’s leading scorer against the Canadiens.
Karlsson finished with a career-high nine shots on goal and had 13 shot attempts, including a backhand off the post during a second-period power play. He also appeared to tip Theodore’s shot in the second period but was not credited with the goal that tied the score at 4.
The best chances for Karlsson came on the power play, as he found room playing the net-front position and was denied by Primeau on a handful of occasions.
3. Roy returns
Center Nic Roy was activated from injured reserve before the game and returned to his spot on the fourth line for the first time since Oct. 24.
Roy missed nine games with an upper-body injury.
The fourth line drew a penalty early in the first period that the Knights were unable to capitalize on, and Roy hit the crossbar early in the second with the Knights trailing 2-0.
Roy finished with one shot on goal and won 12 of 21 faceoffs.