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Golden Knights win in Peter DeBoer’s debut

Updated January 16, 2020 - 9:19 pm

OTTAWA, Ontario — Expressive Mark Stone stops for nothing. Not even his former club.

The Golden Knights right wing dropped to one knee and pumped his fist after scoring in the second period and was the driving force Thursday in a 4-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators at Canadian Tire Centre.

“If that was against the Columbus Blue Jackets, it’s the same celebration,” he said. “Looking back on it now, it feels pretty good. But at the end of the day, getting the win, we need to get back to playing good hockey, and that win needs to propel us to become better.”

Stone finished with a goal and an assist in his first trip back to the city where he played for parts of eight seasons.

Paul Stastny added a goal and an assist as the Knights won in Peter DeBoer’s debut as coach and snapped a four-game losing skid.

The Knights, who were without center William Karlsson (week to week, upper body), controlled play at 5-on-5 most of the way and finished with a 61-39 advantage in shot attempts.

Chandler Stephenson scored on a short-handed breakaway at 5:50 of the third period and Ryan Reaves added a goal midway through the third for the Knights.

“Stoney got us started, and we didn’t look back,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “We played the first two periods like we are capable of and what we expect. I hope (DeBoer) can see that can be the norm for us moving forward.”

Here’s what stood out from the win:

1. Happy homecoming

Stone admitted it was weird coming to Ottawa and staying at a hotel, but said he felt comfortable once he visited with the Senators’ Brady Tkachuk, who rents Stone’s home, and former teammate Thomas Chabot.

Stone received a video tribute with 13:32 remaining in the first period and hopped over the boards to salute the announced crowd of 12,242 with a wave and thumbs-up.

He stuffed a wraparound past Senators goaltender Craig Anderson with 1:05 remaining in the second period, but his biggest play might have come five minutes into the period when he tied up Connor Brown’s stick on a penalty kill and prevented him from putting a rebound into an open net.

“Our leaders led tonight,” DeBoer said. “I thought Stoney was the best player on the ice, and everyone else kind of jumped on board.”

2. Fleury ties Lundqvist

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury took the firing of Gerard Gallant as hard as anyone else and was locked in against the Senators.

Fleury made 23 of his 33 saves in the final two periods for his 458th victory, tying the Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist for fifth on the all-time list.

Fleury ended a personal three-game losing streak and also had the poke-check working again, as he denied Ottawa’s Artem Anisimov on a short-handed breakaway about seven minutes into the first.

“I think I made more key saves this game to keep us ahead,” Fleury said. “If I can do that and be more consistent than I have been, we will be all right.”

3. Stastny finding stride

Karlsson’s injury forced the Knights to shuffle their centers, and Stastny instantly rekindled his chemistry with Stone and Max Pacioretty on the second line.

The three set the tone 34 seconds into the first period when Stastny finished a give-and-go with Stone for his 13th goal, matching his total from last season.

Stastny got off to a slow start, which he partly attributed to an offseason injury, but the 34-year-old has posted seven points (three goals, four assists) in his past seven games.

“Wow, they made some plays,” DeBoer said. “It’s a skilled group. They play the right way, too. They play an honest game.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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