– by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief
LAS VEGAS — The Vegas Golden Knights have the best home record in the National Hockey League, while the Montréal Canadiens have the worst away record in the league. Therefore, Saturday night’s result, and how it evolved, was almost a foregone conclusion.
Right wing Reilly Smith scored two goals to lead the Golden Knights to a 6-3 victory over the Canadiens as Vegas’s historic season produced a new record: the most home wins by a team in its first season in the National Hockey League (22), tying the 1979-80 Hartford Whalers. Even more astounding, the Golden Knights have won 22 of their 28 home games played so far this season (22-4-2).
Smith’s first goal came just 2:16 into the game as the Golden Knights scored three in the first period, chasing Montréal goaltender Antti Niemi from goal after he allowed those three goals in the first period on just six shots faced. After Charles Hudon tied it for the Canadiens at the 4:32 mark, Brad Hunt and Tomas Nosek scored 3:01 apart for Vegas midway through the first period to regain control of the game.
Carey Price, the regular starting goalkeeper who came in for Niemi, also had a shaky start to a period, as the Golden Knights scored just 39 seconds apart early in the second period to turn the game into a laugher. Ryan Carpenter scored his fifth goal of the season at the 3:07 mark and was followed by Smith’s second goal of the game at 3:46. Defenseman Nate Schmidt added a goal at 4:02 in the third to give the Knights a 6-2 lead. Jonathan Marchessault assisted on three of Vegas’s six goals on the evening.
The win, to go along with the loss by the Tampa Bay Lightning to the New Jersey Devils, allowed the Golden Knights to move one point ahead of Tampa in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy with 82 points.
Hudon, Nikita Scherbak and Jonathan Drouin each scored goals for the Canadiens, who are now a league-worst 8-19-1 in road games this season. Montréal has now lost 11 of its last 12 road games, and have been outscored 41-16 in those contests. Price stopped 25 of the 28 shots he faced in relief of Niemi.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline and story is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’s game, with all photos taken by our Las Vegas-based photographer Mindy Small. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 20 pictures in total.