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VGK vs Canucks

Steve Marcus

Vegas Golden Knights right wing Anthony Mantha (39) and left wing Pavel Dorofeyev (16) celebrate Mantha’s goal against the Vancouver Canucks during the first period of an NHL hockey game at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, April 2, 2024.

The Golden Knights’ much-ballyhooed trade-deadline acquisitions didn’t immediately arrive in Las Vegas looking fully comfortable with their new team.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.

An adjustment period is to be expected, Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said ahead of tonight’s game against the Vancouver Canucks, about four weeks since the team acquired defenseman Noah Hanifin, winger Anthony Mantha and center Tomáš Hertl.

“I think that’s perfectly normal for guys who come over,” Cassidy said. “You’re walking into a locker room with Stanley Cup champions, I think you always defer a little bit and try to find out where you fit.”

Cassidy hinted that he felt the two healthy newcomers, Mantha and Hanifin, were closing the learning curve and the pair went on to show it in a decisive 6-3 victory over the Canucks at T-Mobile Arena.

Both Mantha and Hanifin scored during a four-goal, first-period onslaught against the Pacific Division’s first-place team.

“They’ve been contributing a lot,” forward William Karlsson said of his new teammates on the game’s radio broadcast during an intermission. “They’ve been good additions.”

Karlsson scored a power-play goal in the second period with Mantha credited for a secondary assist. That made for Mantha’s second two-point game since joining the Golden Knights from the Washington Capitals as he also opened scoring on the night with a put-back goal 97 seconds into the game.  

Vancouver goalie Casey DeSmith initially used his blocker to turn a shot away from Pavel Dorofeyev on a breakaway but Mantha swooped in to convert on a second chance.

“For him, the last thing is finishing some plays here and there,” Cassidy said of Mantha earlier in the day. “I’m sure he’d like to score at a little higher clip, but he’s had some opportunities. They just haven’t gone in.”

Ditto for Hanifin, who found the net for the first time as a member of the Golden Knights at 14:42 of the first period to make the score 4-1. The former Calgary Flame’s impact on Vegas has been more immediate than Mantha’s, but it had been almost entirely on the defensive end where he’s played on the top pair.

His offense came around against the Canucks on a power play when Jack Eichel drew defenders towards him and fired a pass that Hanifin converted for a one-timer goal from the slot.

“It’s only his first goal in the first few weeks, but that’s not even close to what he does on the ice for us,” forward Jonathan Marchessault said on the radio. “He’s one of those d-men that’s so gifted and plays so well defensively and gets up the ice. We’re definitely lucky to have him on our side and to see him get rewarded there, I’m definitely happy for him.”

Marchessault scored in between Mantha’s and Hanifin’s goals, wristing in his 41st of the season from the right faceoff circle. He’s now only two goals behind Karlsson’s single-season record of 43 goals set in the team’s inaugural 2017-2018 campaign.

Marchessault also chipped in an assist three minutes after his goal, finding linemate Jack Eichel zooming towards the net in transition.

Both Marchessault and Karlsson are currently riding five-game point streaks.  

“There’s no dull moment when you score at home,” Marchessault said. “It’s always a great energy. The Fans are amazing. I love them, and they love me I guess.”

Not one to be outdone by the fellow new faces on the team, Hertl made an important step in his recovery from knee surgery earlier in the day Tuesday. The former San Jose Shark skated in “full contact” fashion, according to Cassidy, for the first time since joining the Golden Knights.

Hertl could make his Vegas debut as soon as Friday’s game at Arizona.

“I’m not ruling him out for Friday or putting him in, but he’s progressing,” Cassidy said.

The Golden Knights made the trio of moves feeling like they needed a spark to give them the best chance to defend their Stanley Cup title. It’s started to become evident that they’ve found it.

Vegas has now won six of seven games and all but completely assuaged fears that they could miss the postseason. The victory over the Canucks might have been the best of the bunch, as the Golden Knights got up four goals in 22 minutes and cruised the rest of the way.

Brett Howden scored their final goal in the third period after having taken a dirty hit that led to a five-minute major penalty for Canucks defenseman Nikita Zadorov earlier in the game. Howden celebrated his goal by pointing to the corner where he was bloodied from the boarding call.

“That’s probably not part of their game plan, but if they want to run around and be idiots, that’s on them,” Marchessault said. “We’ll be ready for that.”

Vegas looks ready for anything right now with seven contests to go in the regular season including a return trip to Vancouver next Monday and then a four-game homestand starting April 12 to finish off the schedule.

The recent improvement is in no small part due to Mantha and Hanifin finding their way with their new team.

“I think we’re playing good right now,” Marchessault said.        

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or

Article written by #LasVegasSun