Las Vegas–Tonight the Vegas Golden Knights finally had their chance to play against the top team in the NHL in Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first time this season and franchise history.

For the Golden Knights they were getting things going for the most part in the games first five minutes of the opening period, until Vegas’s defenseman Brayden McNabb mishandled the puck and flipped it over the glass causing the host’s to be shorthanded against the 1st place power play unit at the 6:35 mark.

As usual it was Stamkos that opened the scoring by the Lightning and from his typical office space, he fired his famous slap shot past Marc-André Fleury who clearly had no way at stopping from getting in the back of the net.

Both Victor Hedman and Nikita Kucherov would get the assists on Stamkos’s 13th of the season for Tampa Bay with 12:17 remaining the 1st period.

Later in the 1st, the Golden Knights put themselves in a very difficult spot again at it was James Neal that put Vegas shorthanded for the 2nd time of the contest.

The Lightning cashed again on the man advantage and it was Vladislav Namestnikov that connected with Kucherov pass to give Tampa the 2-0 lead at the 19:13 mark.

Namestnikov used his slick amazing stickhandling abilities and put puck upstairs on Fleury.

At the 10:07 mark of the middle frame, the Golden Knights finally were able to solve Tampa’s goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy and it was Neal that put Vegas on the board on the power play.

Earlier in the sequence, Neal’s first shot rang off the post and it was his second attempt that would do it as he went far side on Vasilevskiy which cut into the Lightning lead for a 2-1 score. This would Neal’s 17th of the season for the Golden Knights.

For Neal, this was his the 10th time in his NHL career that he scored a goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Neal’s 17th Of The Season With the Golden Knights

In the late stages of the 2nd period, the Golden Knights cashed in on special teams once more and getting it done for Vegas was the former Tampa Bay Lightning forward in Jonathan Marchessault that tied the up contest at 2-2.

David Perron‘s cross ice feed connected with Marchessault as he went back door on Vasilevskiy with 1:19 remaining in the middle frame. This was Marchessault’s 100th NHL point of his career. On that play, Marchessault scored his 12 goal of the campaign for the Golden Knights.

Marchessault’s 100th NHL Career Point

In the early stages of the 3rd period the Golden Knights struck gold once again it was “The Finnish Clutch” Erik Haula who answered the bell for Vegas.  This marked the third time where the Golden Knights would convert on power play.

It was Haula who won the faceoff that started it all and Perron and Shea Theodore teamed to helped their center as he tipped the puck on a redirect shot past Vasilevskiy less than 5 minutes into the 3rd. This was Haula’s 13th marker of the year for Vegas.

Haula Gives Vegas The Lead In The 3rd Period For The First Time

Fun Fact: This was also Haula’s 10th goal he scored in the 3rd period this season for the Golden Knights.

At 16:08 of the third period, Victor Hedman made it interesting for the best team in the league. Hedman converted from a feed by Stamkos and fired a long range shot that tricked Fleury and knotted the game up a 3-3.

In the dying seconds of the final period, Vegas was on their 5th power play of the night and for the Golden Knights the hero was defenseman Theodore who with 2.9 seconds left scored his 2nd goal of the season that sent the crowd of 17,813 at T-Mobile Arena into a frenzy and home very happy.

It was both Marchessault and Haula who connected on Vegas’s final goal that gave Theodore his 4th point of the night.

Theodore’s Buzzer Beater Wins It For Vegas

Their 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, moved the Golden Knights back into a 2-way tie in the Pacific Division with rival Los Angeles with 46 points and a 22-9-2 record with 2 games in hand over the Kings.

They would also be a in a 4-way tie for 1st in the Western Conference with Nashville, St. Louis, and Los Angeles. In the league overall they moved into a 4-way tie for 2nd with the aforementioned teams.

After the game, Golden Knights forward Perron talked about the character of the team when they were down by 2 goals early on in the contest vs the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“After the first period, obviously disappointed to be down two but we knew our 5-5 game was better than there’s. We tried to stay out of the box more and then we started scoring on the power plays really helped.” Perron on the Golden Knights test of character against the high power Tampa Bay Lightning.

For Golden Knights Team Owner Bill Foley he was very impressed with how the team battled back and the mindset he saw in his hockey players tonight against the Eastern Conference power house of Tampa Bay.

“These guys never give up, never give in, they got the right culture, they are terrific hockey players and they’re playing they’re gelling together as a team like I don’t believe anyone ever thought they could, they’re just a great group of guys and couple guys are kind of banged up out there and there still out there playing.” Foley on his no quit attitude hockey team.

On the other side, Stamkos was very complimentary in the overall atmosphere he experienced at T-Mobile Arena despite the 4-3 loss.

“It was the best atmosphere I’ve played in a regular season game in a long time. It was pretty cool just to get out for warmups to see the intensity. The first couple periods, it was such a fast paced game. It was fun to play in. You wonder why it took so long to get a team here.” Stamkos said.

Lightning defenseman Hedman commented after the game of just how good the Golden Knights players and that he wasn’t as bit surprised in how they played tonight.

“I don’t think it’s by surprise and they’re a very good team. They have four lines that go north and they have their kind of identity. They play three lanes, play hard and play with speed. They’re a good team and it’s not a fluke. They have a great home record and it’s impressive that they’re first in their division. It’s definitely not a fluke and after a few games it might have been but this far in it’s not.” Says Hedman on the Vegas players.

3 Stars Of The Game

Vegas Golden Knights: Shea Theodore (4 point night including game winner)

Vegas Golden Knights: David Perron (3 assists)

Vegas Golden Knights: Erik Haula (1 goal and 1 assist)

Honorable Mention: Vegas Golden Knights Jonathan Marchessault (100th NHL career point)

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