Danault scores 3, Byron in OT to lift Habs over Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Phillip Danault was 10 years old when Marc-Andre Fleury made his NHL debut.
After getting his first career three-goal game against the 15-year veteran goaltender, it’s understandable why the 25-year-old center for the Montreal Canadiens became uneasy referring to Fleury by his nickname: “Flower.”
Danault completed a hat trick late in the third period, Paul Byron scored in overtime and the Canadiens beat the Vegas Golden Knights 4-3 on Saturday.
“I call him Flower, I mean, I just hear that’s his name; but Marc-Andre, I think he’s a great goalie, but it was just my time tonight,” said Danault, draped in a fur-lined trench coat after the game. “Obviously he made some big saves, too. It’s a great win for the team overall, too.”
Danault entered the game with two goals this season. His third of the game came with 1:25 left in the third period, setting up Byron’s backhand goal 1:59 into OT.
“We’ve talked to him about getting a little bit more involved around the net and creating some scoring chances for himself and he did that tonight. It’s gonna be good for his confidence,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said about Danault. “He was mad because the second goal, even the first one against us, he felt he could have done a better job, and what you like about a player like that is his reaction. He didn’t lose focus, he kept plugging away to get us back in the game. I thought it was a real character game for him as far as being able to chase those challenges that he had tonight.”
Carey Price made 23 saves, and the Canadiens swept the season series against Vegas.
Well aware of the “Vegas Flu” teams suffered from when visiting the entertainment capital of the world last season, Julien said he gave his team a day off to enjoy Las Vegas’ bright lights after playing in Arizona on Thursday, in order to prepare for the fast-skating Golden Knights.
“We needed to be well-rested for today,” Julien said. “I have to show confidence in my players and let them know I know they can handle themselves as well. Hopefully they enjoyed the day in Vegas yesterday. It was a (game) that was important and when you looked at the way we played today, you know they did the right thing yesterday and were ready to play this afternoon.”
Montreal, which will play three straight on the road after winter break, is riding a 6-3-2 win streak away from home.
“It was probably the best team I’ve seen this year come into our building,” Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “They played great, they were quick and fast. I didn’t mind our team’s game tonight, but they were a step ahead of us all over the ice.”
Vegas ended its six-game home winning streak and dropped to 11-4-1 inside T-Mobile Arena.
Brandon Pirri scored twice and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas. William Karlsson, who leads Vegas with 29 points, had two assists. Fleury, one win shy of his 50th as a Golden Knight, made 43 saves.
Pirri has three goals in two games since being recalled from the American Hockey League’s Chicago Wolves on Dec. 19. The 27-year-old leads Chicago with 29 goals in the AHL and has six goals in four games with the Golden Knights dating to last season.
NOTES: Vegas F Ryan Carpenter is one game shy of 100 in his career. ... Former Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty didn’t get to play against his former team, as he’s currently on injured reserve. ... Tomas Tatar, who played 20 games with Vegas last season, returned to T-Mobile Arena for the first time as a Canadien. Tatar had two assists.
Canadiens: Visit Florida on Dec. 28.
Golden Knights: Host Los Angeles on Sunday.