Golden Knights beat Wild in battle for first in the West
LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Vegas Golden Knights are chasing the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, and Laurent Brossoit is trying to become their starting goalie in the playoffs.
Both took steps forward Saturday night, with Brossoit overcoming an early goal to make 31 saves as the Knights beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 in a battle of division leaders to open a home-and-home series.
The teams meet again Monday night in Minnesota.
Chandler Stephenson had a goal and an assist for the Knights, and Ben Hutton, Zach Whitecloud and Brett Howden scored the other three goals. Jack Eichel had two assists. Matt Boldy scored for Minnesota goal.
“I thought it was one of our more complete games,” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “They get the first goal and we kept playing. That’s what I liked most about it.”
The Knights, who already have clinched a playoff spot, took a step toward winning the Pacific Division with 101 points. It's the second time in the six-year history of the franchise the Knights have eclipsed 100 points, and they are the first Western Conference team to hit that mark this season.
Their lead in the Pacific Division is more tenuous, and victories Saturday by Edmonton (99 points) and Los Angeles (98) kept the heat on the Knights.
Minnesota would have locked up a spot with a victory, but the Wild remain at 97 points. They are still in first place in Central Division, but Dallas and Colorado are each just a point back.
The Wild's six-game point streak ended with the loss. Their 36 points since Feb. 17 led the NHL.
“We had plenty of opportunities to score in this hockey game, but having said that, we didn’t like our energy," Minnesota coach Dean Evason said.
Brossoit (3-0-3) hopes to lock down the starting goalie spot with just six games remaining in the regular season. He is one of five goalies to record multiple victories for the Knights because of injuries and only recently returned himself from a lower-body injury that cost him 13 games. He spent most of the season in the American Hockey League, but is a nine-year NHL veteran.
“Obviously, I want to be the guy,” Brossoit said, “and just kind of look to keep performing like this and just keep building and building.”
Brossoit beat former Knight Marc-Andre Fleury, who had 35 stops for the Wild. Fleury had gone 8-0-1 over his previous nine starts with an average of 2.19 goals allowed.
Minnesota struck first on Boldy's goal five minutes into the game, but Hutton answered nearly five minutes later. Whitecloud and Howden scored in the second period for Vegas, and Stephenson added an empty-net goal with 1:14 left.
“I think we stuck with our game,” Eichel said. “They come out and they get that goal early, but we responded well. ... Those two points, it's a big win.”
NOTES: Minnesota forward Mason Shaw suffered a non-contact lower-body injury less than five minutes into the game and didn't return. He did not put weight on his right leg as he was helped off the ice. ... Knights forward Nic Roy took a puck to the face from teammate Alex Pietrangelo's blast from the point in the second period and briefly went to the locker room. He returned to the game. ... Eichel (one goal, seven assists) and Ivan Barbashev (one goal, four assists) each extended their point streak to five games for the Knights. ... Boldy has 16 points (12 goals, four assists) in his past 11 games.
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