Published Saturday, Nov. 4, 2023 | 9:47 p.m.
Updated 3 minutes ago
No one can stop the Vegas Golden Knights.
That includes the only other franchise to win the Stanley Cup in the last two years, the team the sports betting market rates as the best in the NHL this season. The Golden Knights came into a Saturday night game at T-Mobile Arena as a season-high underdog against the Colorado Avalanche but quickly and definitively defied the odds.
Vegas smashed Colorado 7-0 to improve their NHL-best record to 11-0-1 in front of 18,512 fans.
“It was probably our most complete game from start to finish,” goalie Adin Hill said after his first shutout of the year. “When you win 7-0, it’s not by accident.”
The Golden Knights have now secured at least one standings point in each of their 12 games and have won four straight. But they’ve been critical of themselves despite all the success, particularly believing they could have played better during the four games prior to the first matchup of the year with the Avalanche.
They set out to right it against another championship contender and did just that with arguably their most complete performance of the year. It was their largest margin of victory of the year — more than double four victories of three points — and a total team effort.
Mark Stone, Jack Eichel and William Karlsson — the centerpieces of three different forward lines — each scored twice for the Golden Knights.
Both of the captain Stone’s were of the shorthanded variety. The Golden Knights didn’t have a single shorthanded goal on the year until Stone’s pair against the Avalanche.
He first lit up the scoreboard for the game’s first goal with 3:22 remaining in the first period when Brayden McNabb found him alone in front of Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev.
McNabbb roped a pass so hard that it took Stone a second to gather it, but once he did, Georgiev was out of sorts and unable to stop the tap-in.
“We made a little bit of eye contact and once (McNabb) wound up, I knew he wasn’t shooting it,” Stone said. “I knew he was coming to me, and I just had to get available.”
Stone’s second shorthanded goal came early in the third period when he found himself alone on a breakaway to make the score 5-0.
Both of top-line center Jack Eichel’s goals came in the second period. He started his scoring in the frame flying down the slot, receiving a perfect pass from Jonathan Marchessault in stride and firing it past Colorado goalie Alexandar Georgiev.
Later, Eichel channeled the NHL’s second all-time leading goal scorer, Alexander Ovechkin, by going down on a knee and blasting a shot into the net from the faceoff circle on a power play to make the score 4-0.
Eichel had been scoreless in six straight games before his breakout against the Avalanche.
“I thought we were the better team but I didn’t think it was a 7-0 game,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’re going to take the win and enjoy it — especially Jack, he hadn’t finished in a while so I’m happy for him (to get) a couple solid goals.”
The dominant middle stretch of the game was quite the change from the beginning where both teams looked up to the task of battling for their showdown live up to the hype.
Colorado slightly edged Vegas in terms of chances in the first period, but goalie Adin Hill was impenetrable. During one particularly impressive run, which included a 4-on-3 Colorado power play, Hill turned away successive shots from each of the visitors’ trio of superstars — center Nathan MacKinnon, winger Mikko Rantanen and defenseman Cale Makar.
“I felt like I was seeing the puck well and had patience in my feet,” Hill said. “I just felt good tonight.”
Stone’s first goal came shortly after Hill’s heroics. But Hill didn’t slow his success for the rest of the night, and neither did Stone.
The captain also set up the Golden Knights’ third goal when he skated down the ice with William Carrier and set up the depth wing — who’s not typically on his line — with a quick touch pass.
Colorado’s competitiveness waned from there, as Vegas left no doubt as to which team was better on Sunday night. William Karlsson scored the Golden Knights’ final two goals in the final 11 minutes with the outcome already decided.
The Golden Knights might have been hard on themselves throughout the season, but they can’t find much negative to say after blowing out the Avalanche heading into a game Sunday night at the Anaheim Ducks.
“The team is rolling right now,” Hill said. “We’ve just got to keep our head down and keep rolling.”