Golden Knights turn up heat with win over Canucks
Vancouver Canucks captain Quinn Hughes called Thursday's contest against Vegas a "measuring stick game."
Jack Eichel had one goal and two assists as the Golden Knights defeated the Canucks 4-1 at Rogers Arena. The win allowed Vegas to snap a three-game losing streak, while Vancouver has now lost two of its last three. The two teams are first and second in the Pacific Division.
“Of course it’s a measuring stick game," Hughes said. "They're first in the division and (were the) best team in the league last year … they were better than us tonight and we’ve got the next 55 to 60 games to measure ourselves against them.”
Ivan Barbashev, William Karlsson, and Brett Howden added a goal apiece for Vegas (15-5-4). Adin Hill stopped all 16 shots he faced before exiting for precautionary measures with a lower-body injury.
Logan Thompson took over in the third period, stopping 5-of-6 shots.
Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy was effusive in praising his team's effort playing the eighth of their last nine games on the road.
"This was probably one of our best games of the year," he said. "I thought overall the way we checked, kept Vancouver's top players, made them really work to get space, converted our chances, special teams were good.
"We just had no weaknesses tonight and so as a coach those are the games you love."
Meanwhile, Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet acknowledged his team's failings in the loss.
“Obviously Vegas losing three in a row, we knew they were going to come in here flexing their muscles," he said. "We’re a little disappointed in our play but there was some pushes that were good but not enough and that’s what it comes down to."
Andrei Kuzmenko scored the lone goal for Vancouver (15-8-1). Thatcher Demko turned away 40-of-44 shots in the loss.
“His third period was the best I’ve seen this year," Tocchet said of Kuzmenko, who has underperformed compared to his 74-point season (39 goals, 35 assists) in 2022-23.
Kuzmenko has 15 points (four goals, 11 assists) in 21 games this season.
Barbashev opened the scoring, slotting home a shot between Demko's legs at 4:46 of the first period.
Eichel doubled Vegas' lead at 16:18 of the first. Nicolas Hague drove to the net, passed it to Barbashev, who then slid it across the slot to Eichel for his ninth of the season. The game was Eichel's 500th of his career.
“Jack was good. On top of pucks, hanging onto pucks, challenging their (defence) at the blue line, good defensively," Cassidy said.
"He's a big part of our (penalty) kill now this year, something we didn't use a lot with him and against a team like tonight you need that early on not to give momentum. If we don't kill penalties early — we took enough of them that we could have got ourselves in trouble and was part of that too.”
Karlsson sniped it past Demko at 11:27 of the second period to make it a 3-0 game.
Howden furthered the lead tipping in a Alex Pietrangelo point shot just 16 seconds into the third period.
Vancouver pulled one back courtesy of Kuzmenko at 4:01 of the third.
Vancouver travels to Calgary to take on the Flames on Saturday.
Vegas will host the Washington Capitals on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 30, 2023.