Tuch gets tiebreaker in 2nd, Golden Knights beat Flames 7-3
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Another game, another record for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Alex Tuch scored the tiebreaking goal in the second period and the Vegas Golden Knights pulled away for a 7-3 victory over the Calgary Flames on Wednesday night.
The win moved the Golden Knights back atop the NHL standings with 84 points — a record for an expansion team in its inaugural season — one point ahead of Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay.
Ryan Carpenter, William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, Luca Sbisa, Erik Haula and Cody Eakin also scored for Vegas, which improved to 23-4-2 at home to also set the record for home wins by a team in its inaugural season. It topped the previous mark set by the Gordie Howe-lead 1979-80 Whalers (22-12-6).
Tuch also had an assist and his first fight of the season, giving him the so-called Gordie Howe hat trick.
“I thought our whole team played really hard, we got production from all our lines and it was really good to see,” Tuch said. “I just try to come in here and play hard ... it was good to get my first fight. I wasn’t even thinking about the Gordie Howe part of it. We were all pretty high on emotions and everyone was going back and forth. I was getting a little physical and I think (Travis) Hamonic saw that, so we got into each other’s faces and he asked me if I wanted to fight.”
Marc-Andre Fleury, starting his ninth straight game, made 28 saves for the Golden Knights, who rebounded from a loss on Monday to Pacific Division-rival Anaheim.
“That’s what makes good teams, to be able to bounce back from bad games,” Fleury said. “It’s good that we’re finding ways to put it behind us quickly and move on quickly and get ready for the next one.”
Vegas is now 14-6 following a loss this season, outscoring teams 74-54 in those games.
TJ Brodie, Dougie Hamilton and Matthew Tkachuk scored for Calgary, which was 8-2-1 in its previous 11 road games. David Rittich finished with 19 saves.
With the score tied 3-3 in the second, David Perron found a streaking Tuch, who beat Rittich from a nice angle and went top shelf to give the Golden Knights the lead for good with 6:02 remaining in the period.
Early in the third, the Flames thought they had tied the game, but a challenge overturned Sean Monahan’s goal when Calgary was ruled offside.
“It’s definitely a momentum swing when you think you tied the game up, and we scored shortly after that to go up by two goals, it’s a big difference in a hockey game,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said.
Sbisa took Tuch’s pass and launched a one-timer past Rittich to make it 5-3 at 3:17. It was Sbisa’s 100th career point.
Haula tipped in Sbisa’s slap shot from the point for his 23rd of the season with 8:45 remaining, and Eakin’s seventh made it 7-3 about three minutes later.
“We just got outbattled in areas,” Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We didn’t create as much offense, and in a game like this on the road you’ve got have a little bit more. We’ve a got a few guys that were cruising, and it’s not a time to cruise, it’s a time to push.”
Carpenter gave Vegas a 1-0 lead 2 1/2 minutes in with his sixth goal in nine games, but Brodie’s fourth goal of the season tied it with 3:15 left in the first.
Karlsson redirected Reilly Smith’s wrist shot to give the Golden Knights a 2-1 lead in the final minute, giving Vegas a power-play goal in 13 of its last 15 games.
Hamilton tied it for Calgary just 20 seconds into the second period, but Smith put Vegas back ahead 3-2 about a minute later with his 20th.
Tkachuk was credited with his 23rd when Vegas center Cody Eakin lost his stick and attempted to deflect a shot with his skate but tapped it past Fleury to tie the score with just under nine minutes left in the middle period.
Calgary remains two points back of the final Western Conference wild card spot with 69.
“That was frustrating, that loss, that’s a bad one that loss,” Tkachuk said. “Definitely not coming at a good time, 21 games left.”
NOTES: The seven goals tied the Golden Knights’ season high. ... Vegas improved to 25-3-0 record when scoring the first goal of the game. Its .893 win percentage when scoring the opening goal leads the NHL. ... Veteran forward James Neal, whose 24 goals rank second on the Golden Knights, missed his second consecutive game due to an illness he’s been battling for more than a week. ... Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan coached the Las Vegas Wranglers for six years when they first joined the ECHL, leading them to five playoff berths, two division titles and one Kelly Cup final appearance. ...
Calgary: At Arizona on Thursday night.
Vegas: Hosts Vancouver on Friday night.