Las Vegas–Tonight the Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Carolina Hurricanes for the first time in their history at T-Mobile Arena along with Marc-André Fleury returning in net in a 25 game absence.
At the 16:25 mark of the games opening period, the Carolina Hurricanes opened the scoring after Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb centered his pass that connected with Marcus Kruger.
Kruger’s stick shaft deflected the McNabb pass and the puck ended up sneaking by Fleury that gave the visting Hurricanes the 1-0 lead.
A minute and 7 seconds into the middle frame, the Golden Knights tied the game at 1 goal apiece. In the earlier sequence before Vegas tied it, Nate Schmidt laid out Sebastian Aho in the Golden Knights end of the ice.
The following sequence, saw Erik Haula and David Perron teamed up on Deryk Engelland‘s goal. Engelland grabbed the puck and fired from the point where it far side on Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward.
Engelland Ties It Up Early For Vegas In The Second Period
DERYK ENGELLAND SLAMS ONE HOME, 1-1 GAME FOR THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS! pic.twitter.com/VCxEBZzVtT
— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) December 13, 2017
Later in the 2nd, Jeff Skinner connected with Trevor van Riemsdyk who from a sharp angle shot the puck that beat Fleury to give Carolina the lead once again at the 4:38 mark, for a 2-1 game.
With 7:42 remaining in the 2nd period Reilly Smith tied it back up for Vegas. Colin Miller passed the puck up the ice to Smith who with a great individual effort split the Carolina defense and proceeded on a breakaway against Ward where he went upstairs on him for a 2-2 score.
Smith’s 9th Of The Season
That's how you make your coach smile. 😁 pic.twitter.com/FFpkaGjEjf
— NHL (@NHL) December 13, 2017
The game would end up being decided in the skills competition as this contest marked the Golden Knights fourth time this season that they would see the shootout.
It was 3rd round of the shootout Smith gave Vegas the 1-0 lead but in that same round, Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn answered right back and tied at 1-1.
Later in shootout, it was the skills competition 5th round that would decide it was Carolina Phillip Di Giuseppe that clinched the 3-2 win for the Hurricanes.
For the Golden Knights they would earn a point in the 3-2 loss and their record from the defeat would be 19-9-2 for 40 points, three behind the first place Los Angeles Kings who are currently 20-9-3 in the Pacific Division.
In Fleury’s return between the pipes for the Golden Knights he made 35 saves on 37 total shots with a .950 save percentage. In the shootout he made 1 save.
Ward of the Carolina Hurricanes knotted his 300th NHL career win against the Golden Knights.
It felt good, something that I’ve been striving for a while and very fortunate to be able to get it tonight. I think the guys put forth a great effort, especially coming in a back-to-back situation. To face a new team, new building, new city, it was a fun atmosphere. You can see why they’ve got the record they do at home. They put on a pretty good show here and it was fun to be a part of. Ward on his 300th win between the pipes for Carolina.
“Yeah, it’s kind of weird how it all comes in circle. Again, just really thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given throughout my career to be able to stay in the same organization for 13 years and get those 300 wins. Lot of players and coaching staff and family have really supported me to get to that point and I’m thankful for that.” Ward continued on his 300th win.
After the game, Fleury talked about being back in a game situation for the first time in his 25 games absence.
“I was excited and I felt like I got tired a little quick but it was fun to be back on the ice with the guys. The game is so different when you’re sitting in the press box and you’re on the ice and you hear the crowd and see the battle for the puck. It would have been better if we won.” Fleury on his return.
In terms of the overall game and how it went, Fleury echoed to how comfortable he felt from the opening period to the third.
“The more action I saw, the more I felt comfortable especially in the third period being that it was a little bit more busy and I felt a little bit more like myself.” Says Fleury.
He also talked about facing his former club ahead of Thursday’s matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“I have a lot of friends on the team and that would be nice just them doing well. They’re a good team being a Stanley Cup champ and it’s a good challenge for our team and I’m looking forward to it.” Fleury said on playing against the Penguins this Thursday.
Defenseman Engelland provided us his thoughts on how the game went tonight after the 3-2 shootout loss by the Hurricanes.
“First period, we were a little slow coming out of the gate. Second period we battled back, and third went both ways. Both teams had chances and we were just flat-footed coming out.” Engelland on tonight’s performance for the team.
Smith was very complimentary when he talked about Fleury’s return backstopping the Golden Knights net and being a presence with the team in locker room again.
“It’s great having him back in the locker room, he always has a smile on his face even when he’s going thru some of those injury woes but he played great tonight, he made a couple big saves for us.” Smith on Fleury.
3 Stars Of The Game
Carolina Hurricanes: Phillip Di Giuseppe (Shootout winning goal)
Vegas Golden Knights: Marc-André Fleury (35 save performance and a .950 save percentage)
Carolina Hurricanes: Cam Ward (300th Career Win)