Updated November 13, 2021 - 11:15 pm
Jonathan Marchessault hit his milestone in style.
The Golden Knights left wing didn’t just score any ol’ goal for his 100th with the franchise. He scored skating down the right faceoff circle in the third period of a tie game with a lightning-quick wrist shot that beat goaltender Thatcher Demko far-side.
It was a fitting goal for an impressive achievement. It was also the game-winner in a 7-4 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
“Obviously, I’m pretty proud of that,” Marchessault said of his milestone. “VGK is my pride of my career. Obviously, I want to always be here and work hard and win with that team and that franchise. That’s my main goal, and I’m going to keep pushing towards that.”
The first meeting between the sides since the Knights’ seven-game, second-round playoff series victory in 2020 was a wild, back-and-forth game played in front of an announced crowd of 18,261. It featured Knights captain Mark Stone’s first game since Oct. 14, defenseman Ben Hutton’s franchise debut and rookie center Jake Leschyshyn’s first NHL goal.
The Canucks built a 2-0 in the first period, but the teams kept trading chances. The game was tied three times before Marchessault’s power-play goal 8:24 into the third period gave the Knights a 5-4 lead.
Marchessault is the first player in team history to reach 100 goals. He got to 101 before the game was over, giving him seven goals and two assists during his six-game point streak.
“He scores big goals,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “You look at that total, but he scores big goals. … He’s just that guy and a big part of the group here.”
Here are three more takeaways from the win:
1. Stone returns
The first roar came during warmups. A second, far louder one, echoed throughout T-Mobile Arena when the Knights’ starters were announced.
Stone played for the first time since the team’s second game against Los Angeles, and the fans made sure to welcome him back.
He didn’t ease back into action. He played 18:55, second-most on the Knights among forwards. He also showed rust early. He turned the puck over on the Canucks’ first goal and was barely out of the penalty box when they scored their second. But his impressive third-period assist on left wing Evgenii Dadonov’s goal showed he was feeling better by the end.
“It couldn’t get any worse,” Stone said of his start. “But, yeah, I definitely felt better as the game went on. I haven’t even had a practice really yet, so it’s been a long month for me. Just excited to get back with the guys, especially when we’re winning games.”
2. McNabb makes impact
Brayden McNabb, as a burly, veteran defensive defenseman, doesn’t always stick out as much as his flashier teammates.
It was impossible not to notice him Saturday.
McNabb provided one of the Knights’ best plays of the first period by laying a huge hit on left wing Vasily Podkolzin by his own blue line. McNabb also gave his team a power play in the aftermath, because defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson took exception to the check and got a four-minute minor for roughing.
McNabb then showed off his offense in the second period by scoring his second goal with 9:09 remaining to put the Knights up 3-2. He also drew another power play after getting tripped by right wing Nils Hoglander behind his own net.
Not bad for someone used to stopping plays rather than making them.
“When the team needs a spark, he does the right things,” said goaltender Robin Lehner, who got his fourth straight win. “He’s just so consistent and good at what he does. He calms it down for us. He deserves a lot of credit. It’s nice that he got to put one in today, too.”
3. Haunted no more
DeBoer said Saturday morning that “I still wake up in cold sweats” thinking about Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko.
The Vancouver netminder almost singlehandedly defeated the Knights in their 2020 playoff series. They led 3-1 before Demko started Game 5. He stopped 123 of the 125 shots he faced in the next three games but lost in Game 7.
Demko wasn’t nearly as formidable in the teams’ next meeting. The seven goals the Knights scored were tied for the second-most in franchise history. They’ve scored eight once.
“Today, obviously, was a very entertaining game for the fans,” Lehner said. “I thought it was entertaining, too. I hate letting in four goals, but I had a lot of fun out there. It was a pond-hockey game back and forth. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that many odd-man rushes both ways. Fun to go away with a win. We just needed points.”