The Vegas Golden Knights will go for a season-best five-game winning streak on Tuesday night when they host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Las Vegas.
It’s the fifth game of a season-long, seven-game homestand for Vegas, which led the Pacific Division by two points entering Monday. The Golden Knights come in off a 5-4 overtime victory over St. Louis on Saturday afternoon, rallying from a 3-0 first-period deficit and winning on a Chandler Stephenson breakaway goal with 1:59 to go in overtime.
The victory over the Blues marked the first time in the franchise’s 2 1/2-year history that Vegas had rallied from a three-goal deficit to win a game.
“We are playing good hockey, and our guys are confident,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “A huge win for us. We have a nice seven-game homestand, and I think we are 4-0 right now. … They played hard, so for our team to come back and battle and never quit (and) find a way in overtime to get two points is big for us.”
Gallant was asked if it was a statement win for his team, which improved to 2-3-0 against teams above them in the playoff standings.
“Well, it wasn’t too much of a statement the first 28 minutes, but after that we played real good hockey,” Gallant said. “We battled back and never quit. Never say never in this league. They are a great hockey team … and we’re fortunate (goaltender Marc-Andre) Fleury made some key saves early in the second period so it didn’t go 4-0 or 5-0.”
Fleury finished with 27 saves to pick up his 457th career win, one behind Henrik Lundqvist, who ranks fifth on the NHL’s career wins list.
Fleury had 29 saves while picking up a shutout in the first meeting between the Penguins and Golden Knights on Oct. 19 in Pittsburgh, a 3-0 victory by Vegas. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2003 NHL Draft, Fleury won three Stanley Cups with the Penguins before moving on to Vegas which selected him in the 2017 expansion draft.
There’s a possibility Fleury could face his old teammate, two-time Hart Trophy winner Sidney Crosby, on Tuesday night.
According to The Athletic, Crosby, out since Nov. 9 with a sports hernia, is making the three-game western trip that also includes games with Colorado on Friday and Arizona on Sunday afternoon. The Penguins, who enter Tuesday night’s game in second place in the Metropolitan Division, have gone 15-6-4 without their superstar.
Pittsburgh, plagued by injuries much of the season, is also 1-1-1 since losing center Jake Guentzel for four-to-six months following shoulder surgery. Guentzel leads the team in both points (43) and goals (20).
“It obviously sucks,” winger Bryan Rust told NHL.com. “It’s a big blow to this team. He was our All-Star this year.”
The Penguins come in off a 4-1 home loss to Florida on Sunday night, the second game of a back-to-back that began 22 hours earlier with a 3-2 overtime victory at Montreal. It also capped a stretch of three games in four days.
“I don’t think we had the juice we have had in most of the games this year,” said Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan. “I think one of the challenges in this league is the grind of the schedule and good teams have to understand how to manage those games.”
–Field Level Media