There have been a lot of firsts for the Vegas Golden Knights, and that makes sense for an expansion franchise in its first National Hockey League season. On Tuesday night, the Golden Knights got their first shootout win, and it came at home in front of thousands of adoring, screaming fans at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip. What better way to do it?
The NHL introduced the shootout for the 2005-06 season to reduce ice time and injury risk, and it's quite exciting for fans in attendance. It's only used during the regular season, leaving playoff hockey untouched. If after five minutes of extra time in a tie game the teams remain deadlocked, then the shootout decides the "winner" of the game and the extra point in the standings (as each team already has secured one point by reaching overtime in the first place).
Earlier this season, the Golden Knights lost their first franchise shootout on the road in Toronto, but on Tuesday night against the Anaheim Ducks, it was Vegas' turn to bask in the glory of frozen celebration.
The Golden Knights took a 2-0 lead in the first period against the Ducks, the five-time Pacific Division defending champions. However, in the second period, Anaheim fought back to take a 3-2 lead into the final 20 minutes of regulation. After assisting on the firs two goals for Vegas, left wing Erik Haula scored his ninth goal of the season in the third period to tie the game at three apiece, and that sent the game into overtime.
Goaltender Malcolm Subban made every save he needed to in overtime, including this impressive snag when the Ducks had a three-on-one opportunity, and then the shootout arrived for the first time at T-Mobile Arena. The 17,608 fans in attendance won't soon be forgetting this moment.
The first two rounds of the shootout were scoreless efforts, as both Subban and his Anaheim counterpart (John Gibson) didn't allow a goal. Then, Vegas right wing Alex Tuch came to center ice with the puck for his turn. He was first-round pick of the Minnesota Wild in 2014, but Tuch only saw six scoreless games of action with the Wild last season before the Golden Knights acquired him—for moments just like this, perhaps.
Tuch, who assisted on Haula's game-tying goal in the third, took a broad approach to the net from the right side, crossed in front of Gibson and flipped a backhand shot to the top of the net for the go-ahead score in the shootout. It was a beautiful effort by the 21-year-old forward—and it put Subban on the spot. If the Vegas goalie could stop the next shot, the Golden Knights would win.
And Subban did just that: The Ducks sent Ondrej Kase up for the shot, and he waited too long to get a shot off. By the time he tried, Subban's pads were right there to deny the effort and win the game. Subban's enthusiasm at stopping Kase clearly demonstrated this was a big moment for the team—and the hometown fans, who erupted in response to Subban's effort and antics.
Next up for Vegas (17-9-1) this week are back-to-back road games in Nashville (18-7-3) and Dallas (16-11-1). The Golden Knights' next home game is December 12 against the Carolina Hurricanes. Who knows? Maybe there will be more shootout excitement in that matchup.
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