Connect with us



Golden Knights vs Islanders

John Locher/AP

Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel, second from right, celebrates after scoring against the New York Islanders during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024, in Las Vegas.

Updated Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024 | 11:17 p.m.

Winning and losing isn’t always decided by skill. Luck plays a factor every now and then.

When a team is on a slump like the Golden Knights have been for the past three weeks, any bit of good fortune is welcomed. Even in the form of puck luck.

Luck wasn’t the primary factor in the Golden Knights winning 5-2 against the New York Islanders at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday for just their second win in eight games. They played as close to a 60-minute game for the first time since mid-December and were in control for a majority of it.

One sequence, however, was a much-needed gift from the hockey gods.

With just over three minutes remaining in the second period, tied 1-1, the puck bounces off Alec Martinez’s stick and it springs an odd-man rush for the Islanders. Center Bo Horvat is to the left, with Anders Lee at the right circle. Horvat found Lee for a one-timer that got through Logan Thompson’s arm, but it hit the far post. The puck landed right at a streaking Mat Barzal, who had an open net to shoot at, but missed wide with the backhand.

One minute later, the Golden Knights answered. Vegas scored twice in 1:30 with Pavel Dorofeyev and Nic Roy increasing the lead to 3-1 and being the stretch to give the Golden Knights a much needed win.

Jack Eichel and Roy scored twice, and Dorofeyev scored for the second straight game to give the Golden Knights (23-12-5) just their second win since Dec. 19. Thompson, who made a number of key saves to hold New York to those two goals, made 28 saves.

“I think we did a great job of forechecking tonight,” Roy said, noting it was an emphasis from an hour-long practice on Friday following Vegas’ 4-1 loss to Florida the night before. “You look at our goals, a lot of them were pretty simple.”

Roy isn’t wrong. The Golden Knights have needed a simple, 60-minute game for the past three weeks. They had been outscored 29-15 in the last seven games and scored more than three goals three times.

Vegas didn’t need to do anything flashy. Eichel’s first goal 6:25 into the game was off a touch pass from Jonathan Marchessault, who found Eichel sneaking to the slot and scoring on a one-timer.

Dorofeyev and Roy’s goals in the second were a product of getting to the net. Dorofeyev finished a cross-ice pass from Chandler Stephenson with the rookie alone on the weak side, and Roy beat a screened Ilya Sorokin less than two minutes later.

That goal was important because Islanders coach Lane Lambert challenged for goaltender interference, but the officials ruled Keegan Kolesar did not interfere with Sorokin. The goal stood, and Vegas was given a power play by way of New York losing the coach’s challenge.

Eichel’s second goal came at the tail end of that power play 31 seconds into the third when he beat Sorokin with a wrist shot from the right circle to make it 4-1.

Assisting on that goal was Lukas Cormier, the third-round pick from 2020 making his NHL debut after being recalled from AHL Henderson on Thursday. Called up because of his offensive ability and a knack for moving the puck with speed and vision, Cormier had the primary assist on Eichel’s goal for his first NHL point.

“It was everything I expected and more,” Cormier said with his parents in the stands, traveling from Eastern Canada to see their son play 19:23 in his first game. “It was a really fun experience, just the whole thing in general.”

The Golden Knights’ biggest ire of frustration during this slide was finding different ways to lose. One night could lead to a meltdown on the penalty kill, like Dec. 21 in Tampa; or giving up three goals in the third against Florida two days later; or looking overwhelmed in the Winter Classic against Seattle.

Saturday was the first time in a while that everything clicked for the Golden Knights. They got timely goals late in the second period that swung the momentum, and leading up to that, Thompson made key saves to keep Vegas in the game. His biggest came 7:59 in the second period when he turned aside Kyle Palmieri’s breakaway attempt with his blocker pad.

“Those are timely saves, and you don’t know when they’re going to come,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “When you’re playing well and you get a big save, I think it gives you a lot of juice.”

The gauntlet in January doesn’t get easier next week. Vegas gets three days off before a back-to-back at Colorado on Wednesday and home against Boston on Thursday. Good news for the Golden Knights is Adin Hill is expected to return to the starter’s crease at some point this week, perhaps in that back-to-back, Cassidy said.

They will have to move forward without William Karlsson, who was downgraded to week-to-week with a lower-body injury. Karlsson was originally slated to miss these past two games before returning, but is no longer the case.

With the injuries and losing compiling into one collective ball of negative energy, the Golden Knights needed that game. Carrying it over is the new challenge.

“We wanted to play better, and I think our second and third period were awesome,” Roy said. “We’ve just got to keep the same energy.”

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on X at

Article written by #LasVegasSun