Brayden McNabb, Golden Knights end game, 2021 with fireworks
The Golden Knights won for the 10th time in their past 12 games and increased their lead over the Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division to three points.
Updated December 31, 2021 - 5:34 pm
Brayden McNabb didn’t have to follow through on his heavy hit late in the third period with Friday’s New Year’s Eve matinee already decided in the Golden Knights’ favor.
The defenseman chose violence.
McNabb blasted Anaheim’s Sam Carrick along the wall as he’s done to a number of opposing puck carriers, setting off a melee and sending a final message in the Knights’ convincing 3-1 win over the upstart Ducks at T-Mobile Arena.
“Any time we play each other there’s always some intensity, and there’s nothing wrong with that,” assistant coach Ryan McGill said. “I just think that’s the way it’s been for the last four years.”
The Knights welcomed back coach Pete DeBoer after he missed Tuesday’s game while in COVID-19 protocol and outplayed the Ducks in all three zones to increase their lead over Anaheim in the Pacific Division to three points.
Mattias Janmark took advantage of his opportunity on the top line when he cashed in a long rebound for a 3-0 lead at 4:39 of the second. The announced crowd of 18,022 also was treated to a penalty shot late in the period that Janmark couldn’t convert.
Nicolas Roy and Adam Brooks scored in the first period to help the Knights win for the 10th time in 12 games.
The Knights nearly tripled up Anaheim on the shot counter (45-16) and set a season low for shots on goal allowed.
They finished December with a 10-3 record and had 62 victories during the regular season in 2021, the most in the league. They are the sixth team in NHL history with more than 60 regular-season wins in a calendar year.
“The team’s feeling really good the last month or so,” goalie Laurent Brossoit said. “To cap off the year in a fashion like that couldn’t feel any better.”
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Depth shines through
The bottom six forwards provided two goals and also contributed to Janmark’s unassisted tally in the second period.
Roy set a career high in goals (seven) when he scored on a deflection at 11:15 of the first period moments after a chance in front hopped over his stick.
Brooks put the Knights ahead 2-0 when he redirected a shot by defenseman Dylan Coghlan, who shattered his stick on the play. That seemed to distract everyone from the puck being lodged in the upper portion of the net.
Eventually, the officials noticed Brooks pointing toward the goal, and he was awarded his second of the season.
Center Nolan Patrick made his first appearance since Oct. 22 after missing the past 29 games with an upper-body injury.
“We’ve been dealing with a lot of stuff this year obviously with all the injuries, COVID and everything,” Roy said. “We’ve been doing a really good job of the next man in creating opportunities for themselves. Everybody’s stepping up, and we did that again.”
2. Rough stuff
The Ducks were frustrated into 41 minutes in penalties, the majority of which came in the second period as the Knights put a Vise Grip on an Anaheim attack that was missing rookie sensation Trevor Zegras because of COVID protocol.
Keegan Kolesar squared off with Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had gone after Knights center William Karlsson earlier.
After Anaheim enforcer Nicolas Deslauries was handed a 10-minute misconduct while lined up for a faceoff, all heck broke loose at 14:10. Ducks forward Derek Grant cross-checked William Carrier in the back after the draw, and McNabb stepped in to defend his teammate.
Along with his brawl near the end of the game, McNabb became the first Knights player to have two fighting majors in the same game, according to HockeyFights.com.
“He’s been consistent with his physical tone, and he understands that’s his identity as a player, and he does it very, very well,” McGill said. “There’s a lot of players that understand where he is on the ice, and that’s a great asset for him. He’s just been real consistent throughout the last 15, 20 games.”
3. So close to shutout
Wearing his new pad setup and helmet, Brossoit was 11.4 seconds from his first shutout since Feb. 19 at Vancouver and third of his career. But his bid was spoiled by Getzlaf on a power play.
Brossoit finished with 15 stops in his third consecutive start in place of the injured Robin Lehner.
He came up with a key save on Buddy Robinson to keep the score 2-0 in the second period moments before Janmark scored and also turned away Sonny Milano on a two-on-one shortly after to preserve the 3-0 lead.
“The main goal is a win, and so that feels good, but of course a shutout would’ve been nice,” Brossoit said. “A little bit of a bonus, but it’s not going to ruin my night.”
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