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Mark Stone rescues weary Golden Knights in shootout

Updated January 29, 2022 - 6:54 pm

The indicator arrow on the Golden Knights’ gas tank hovered near empty Saturday at the end of their exhausting four-game road trip. That’s a dangerous place to be against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions.

Despite running on fumes in the third period, the Knights had enough left in reserve to head home on a high note.

Mark Stone scored in the seventh round of the shootout and followed with an emphatic celebration as the Knights beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida.

“We knew at the start of the year that this (trip) was one that we were looking forward to,” forward Brett Howden said. “I thought we played a real good game. They had a big push in the third, but for us to come out on top on this road trip (is) a big statement for us.”

Howden and William Carrier each finished with a goal and an assist to help the Knights take five of a possible eight points from their swing through the southeast that featured three of the NHL’s top four teams.

Nicolas Roy, Shea Theodore and William Karlsson were successful on their shootout attempts.

Goalie Robin Lehner carried a shutout into the third period before Lightning forward Ross Colton scored with 6:48 remaining. Corey Perry was credited with the tying goal at 17:12 after a goalmouth scramble.

Tampa Bay had three power plays in the third period and outshot the Knights 17-1. Evgenii Dadonov’s drive from 71 feet away with one minute remaining was the only shot the visitors registered despite having a handful of odd-man rush chances.

Brayden Point, Steven Stamkos and Colton scored in the shootout for the Lightning.

”Really proud of our group. That’s a hell of a road trip for us,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “You play good teams on the road like that, you get into the third period, they’re going to open it up to try to get back in the game. And the one thing that I would like to do better is obviously make sure we put them away when they give us those looks.”

Here are three takeaways from the game:

1. Depth scoring continues

Howden returned to the lineup after he was a healthy scratch against Florida and continued his revenge tour when he opened the scoring at 5:25 of the first period after goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy left a rare rebound.

The 2016 first-round pick by the Lightning has six goals this season, half of which have come against his former teams (Tampa Bay and the New York Rangers). Howden has goals in two straight appearances and points in three straight.

Carrier put the Knights ahead 2-0 with 5:04 remaining in the second period, as the fourth line outworked Tampa Bay down low and his shot deflected off a Lightning defender.

The Knights’ fourth line produced five of the seven goals that were scored on the trip.

“We try to be an energy line,” Howden said. “The way we’re working, the battles that we have in the corner, we’re coming out with pucks and going hard to the net.”

2. Goalie duel

Lehner heaped praise on Vasilevskiy, calling him the best goalie in the league the past five years “hands down.” But he went toe-to-toe with the Lightning’s All-Star, finishing with 27 stops for the ninth win in his past 13 decisions (9-3-1).

Lehner made his first start against Tampa Bay since Nov. 8, 2018, and turned away Steven Stamkos twice in the second period. He stopped Colton on a breakaway early in the second period and denied Mikhail Sergachev late in the overtime.

For the trip, Lehner went 2-1 with a 1.30 goals-against average and .957 save percentage. He also improved to 3-1 in shootouts this season.

“It was pretty fun,” Lehner said. “They had a couple nice goals (in the shootout), and the guys stepped up and scored a bunch for me.”

3. COVID strikes again

The Knights were without two players for the finale of their trip.

Center Chandler Stephenson, the team’s leading scorer, and defenseman Dylan Coghlan were unavailable because of COVID-19 protocol, the team announced. It was the second game this season Stephenson has missed.

The Knights don’t play again until Tuesday when they host Buffalo.

With Stephenson out of the lineup, center Nolan Patrick was handed the keys to the first line after his recent hot streak. Patrick finished with one shot on goal and went 10-5 on faceoffs but missed his attempt in the shootout.

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

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