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It Was “The Jason Zucker Show” In Vegas As Minnesota Beats Golden Knights 4-2
(Photo by AFP)
Las Vegas–The scene was set tonight like a perfect Hollywood Production in “Sin City” as local boy Jason Zucker finally played an NHL game in Vegas for the first time.
The Golden Knights this season against Minnesota have not fared well as they dropped the last two meetings in “The State Of Hockey”. In their first-ever matchup, the Wild beat Vegas 4-2 back in November and then last month by a 5-2 score.
Zucker who played local hockey in Vegas with the Outlaws when he was younger, waited a long time to finally play an NHL contest in his hometown and this one was 319 games in the making.
7:19 into the opening period, the moment for Zucker was worth the wait as he finally scored an NHL goal in the city he called home for many years.
Helping out the local boy get his first one against the Golden Knights was the former New York Islanders forward Nino Niederreiter.
Niederreiter played the puck behind Marc-André Fleury‘s net and with Zucker coming into the low slot position, snapped it past the 3-time Stanley Cup Champ to open the scoring for the Wild. This was Zucker’s 29th goal of the season as he continues to have the campaign of his life.
The goal also marked the completion for Zucker in scoring against all 30 NHL teams in his career.
After he scored the opening goal of the game the crowd at T-Mobile Arena both Golden Knights and Wild fans gave the hometown boy a standing ovation.
The Wild would continue their attack on the Golden Knights in the middle frame as it would be the former San Jose Sharks prospect Charlie Coyle extending Minnesota’s lead on Vegas.
With Fleury coughing up a rebound shot by his former teammate last season in Matt Cullen, Coyle was opportunistic and in the low slot and went backhander upstairs and made it 2-0 Wild at 5:53 mark of the 2nd.
Less then 2 minutes later in the 2nd, it was the local boy once again involved in the scoring play. Zucker and Eric Staal teamed up for the third Wild goal of the night. Behind the net Zucker with time and space sent a feed pass to Matt Dumba down low and put one over Fleury for a 3-0 Minnesota lead.
In the 3rd period, the Golden Knights would mount a rally of their own as it was the former Wild forward Erik Haula getting Vegas on the board at 13:28 of the frame.
After Colin Miller lost the puck after the play was broken up, David Perron took the opportunity and dished it over to Haula and with an open net put is past Stalock for a 3-1 hockey game.
Just under a minute left in the 3rd period, the Golden Knights had six attackers on the ice against the Wild and tried to mount some late scoring magic on Minnesota.
The scoring play started as Haula passed the puck over to Perron near the slot and the former Blues forward sent one in on Stalock who lost sight of the rubber and with a brilliant play, it was Ryan Carpenter who poked it home behind the Wild goaltender for a one-goal game at 3-2. Carpenter netted his 9th of the season for Vegas.
However, for the Golden Knights and the 18,295 that bared witnessed to Zucker’s homecoming, Vegas would lose this one as Zach Parise scored the empty net goal for a 4-2 Minnesota win on the Golden Knights.
The Wild handed the Golden Knights their 4th straight loss on home ice since the NHL Trade Deadline as remained in first place in the Pacific Division at 45-21-5.
This was Fleury’s 8 loss against the Wild in his NHL career with his 26 save performance tonight on 29 shots for the Golden Knights.
On the other end of the ice, Stalock bested out Fleury in net for the Wild as he stopped 26 of 28 total shots and posted a .929 save %.
Zucker ended the night with 3 SOG’s and was in the top five overall in TOI for the Wild at 20:15.
The 4-2 win over the Golden Knights earned the Wild their first-ever season series sweep against Vegas.
3 Stars Of Game
Minnesota Wild: Jason Zucker (1 goal and 1 assists in his homecoming game in Vegas)
Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba (game-winning goal)
Vegas Golden Knights: Erik Haula (1 goal and 1 assist)