Stone scores 1st goal for Golden Knights in rout of Canucks
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) — Mark Stone had to wait a few weeks, but he finally scored his first goal for Vegas.
And, that sparked the Golden Knights in a big way.
Stone scored 1:32 into the game and Vegas used a five-goal first period to cruise past the Vancouver Canucks 6-2 on Saturday night, the sixth straight win for the Golden Knights.
“It took a little bit longer than I hoped,” said the 26-year-old right wing, who also has two assists since being acquired from Ottawa at the trade deadline on Feb. 25. “The way the guys are playing right now is awesome and it’s awesome to be able to contribute.”
Paul Stastny, Alex Tuch, Tomas Nosek, Cody Eakin and Nate Schmidt also scored for the Golden Knights. Marc-Andre Fleury had 29 saves for his 34th win of the season and 438th of his career to move past Jacques Plante for eighth on the NHL’s all-time list.
“It’s a little surreal, right?” Fleury said of the accomplishment. “He’s a guy that has done so much for the game and obviously being from close to Montreal, I never got to watch him play but I heard a lot about him and saw videos of him and it’s an honor to be right there with him.”
But the 34-year-old said getting a win on Saturday was more important.
“We’ve been playing better hockey lately and it shows,” he said. “I think every night we are tough to beat, so we have to keep this rolling and see where it takes us.”
The Canucks got goals from Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat, while Alex Biega tallied two assists. Jacob Markstrom stopped 11 of the 16 shots he faced before he was replaced by Thatcher Demko midway through the first period. Demko turned away 16 of 17 shots.
“I thought our young guys competed tonight,” Canucks coach Travis Green said. “We’ve got a young team dressed against a veteran team that’s poised to try and win a Cup. That’s a tough game to play once they have a first period like that. But I thought our team kept coming at them.”
The Golden Knights have outscored their opponents 24-9 through their winning streak.
Vancouver got off to a disastrous start, allowing five goals in the game’s first 15 minutes. It was the fourth outing in a row during which the Canucks have been forced to battle back from an early multigoal deficit.
“Collectively as a unit we have to do better,” Biega said. “At the end of the day, we have to defend quicker. We’ve got to get those loose pucks and find a way to be hard against their skill. We play a grindy game and when we do, we have success.”
Stone opened the scoring 1:32 in, popping a backhanded shot past Markstrom from the slot for his first goal in a Golden Knights jersey. The 26-year-old right wing has also had two assists since Vegas acquired him from Ottawa at the trade deadline on Feb. 25.
Tuch made it 2-0 for the Knights less than four minutes later, tipping in a long shot from Jon Merrill after the Canucks failed to clear the puck.
At 7:33, Eakin forced a shot through heavy traffic, bouncing the puck off Vancouver’s Tanner Pearson and into the net to put Vegas up 3-0.
Nosek made it 4-0, tipping the puck in over Markstrom’s glove at 11:52. The Vancouver goalie was pulled at 14:17 after Stastny beat him through the five-hole.
The Canucks’ first real scoring chance of the night came just over 10 minutes in when Antoine Roussel stole the puck and went 2-on-1 with Elias Pettersson. Roussel sliced a cross-ice pass to the star rookie, whose blistering shot went off the post.
Less than a minute later, Boeser put Vancouver on the board, deflecting a long shot from Biega in past Fleury.
Horvat added a goal 3:56 into the second period with a hard wrist shot from the face-off dot that beat Fleury glove side. It was the center’s first point in six games.
Schmidt quieted hopes of any second-period comeback a minute later, ripping a shot from high in the slot. The puck bounced off the stick of Vancouver’s Josh Leivo and into the net, putting Vegas back up by four goals.
NOTES: Roussel assisted on Horvat’s goal, tallying his 30th point of the season and marking a career high. The 29-year-old left wing previously had 29 points for the Dallas Stars in both 2013-14 and 2015-16. … Jake Virtanen returned to the Canucks’ lineup. He missed 10 games after breaking two ribs in a collision with Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf on Feb. 13. … Vancouver has a single regulation win in its last 17 games.
Golden Knights: will look to extend its winning streak when it faces the Flames in Calgary on Sunday.
Canucks: will host the New York Rangers on Wednesday.