Eakin scores 2, Fleury gets shutout as Vegas beats Ducks 5-0
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Last season, Cody Eakin didn’t score his seventh goal until Feb. 21. He did it more than three months earlier this time.
Eakin scored his sixth and seventh goals of the season, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots for his third shutout, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-0 Wednesday night.
“I don’t know what it is, just having fun, I think that’s important, to play the game, enjoy it and have fun,” said Eakin, whose career high is 19 goals but is currently on pace to score 38. “The pucks are going in right now, there will be times when they aren’t, but I’m going to try and ride it.”
Alex Tuch and Nick Holden each had a goal and an assist, Tomas Hyka also scored and Max Pacioretty added two assists to help the Golden Knights match their season-high scoring total.
“They know tonight was a big hockey game for our group,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “I thought we played our game tonight. I thought we worked really hard defensively, we did a lot of good things in the D zone, and that started our offense. Guys went to the net and they scored some nice goals tonight. Hopefully we got a little bit of our mojo back.”
Fleury, meanwhile, earned his 412th career victory while sporting a pair of brand new gold pads.
“A little bit more flashy than my other ones,” Fleury said about his pads, which generated more conversation than his 51st shutout that moved him into a tie with four others for 24th all-time. “I just thought, we’re the Golden Knights, might as well try a little golden gear and have a little swagger out there.”
It was the second straight home shutout for the Golden Knights and Fleury, who struggled during the team’s recent 1-3 road trip. Going 1-2 in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal, the 15-year veteran allowed 10 goals.
“I feel sometimes when it doesn’t go well, for goalies, you want to do too much instead of just being patient and relax and reacting,” Fleury said. “They’re a team that throws the puck at the net, but they always have lots of guys around the net. But this is the best place to play. It’s so loud, the atmosphere here every night is awesome.”
It marked the second time the Golden Knights and Fleury defeated their Pacific Division rival at home this season.
“Obviously, Flower made some key saves, but I thought we had some great jump the second period, it was an excellent period for us,” Gallant said. “We got a few puck lucks tonight, we got some breaks tonight finally. Hopefully it’s gonna turn for us.”
John Gibson started for Anaheim and gave up three goals on 12 shots before being pulled at 7:19 of the second period. Ryan Miller came on and stopped 11 of the 13 shots he faced.
The Ducks came into their second meeting with Vegas this season after limiting opponents to two goals or fewer in 10 games but couldn’t keep the Golden Knights’ second line in check as Tuch, Eakin and Pacioretty each had two points.
After spending a majority of last season on the third line, Eakin has been a welcome addition to the second line, back alongside Tuch, now that Erik Haula is on the injured reserve list.
“When Cody came up, I thought we had interesting chemistry,” said Tuch, who has a point in his last four games, and in seven of the 11 games he’s played in after missing the first eight games. “Cody and I played together from the start of the season pretty much last year. ... I think the chemistry’s always been there. I think we’re just connecting on some plays that we haven’t, bearing down on some areas that we weren’t able to last year. And Pacioretty coming on to that line is a huge asset.”
Tuch got things started when he grabbed a rebound and popped it past Gibson late in the first period. Vegas went up 2-0 just 25 seconds into the second, when Tuch fed Eakin, who sniped Gibson with a wrist shot above the glove.
Holden was credited with the next goal after his shot from the point caromed off the end board and into the crease, where Ducks center Adam Henrique accidentally put the puck past Gibson, who was pulled immediately afterward.
But the red-hot Eakin skated in on a breakaway and scored his seventh of the season with a backhand over Miller’s glove two minutes later, making it 4-0.
Hyka got his first goal of the season when he skated in from the left wing and beat Miller stick side.
“When they got the emotions going and they got fired up, you can expect that kind of pace from their hockey club, and I don’t think that’s a surprise to us,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. “After our last game, we didn’t seem in the competitive spirit, and that surprises us.”
NOTES: In recognition of Military Appreciation Night, 92-year-old Edward Hall, the last survivor in Southern Nevada from the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, dropped the ceremonial first puck. ... Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler, who was struck in the face with a puck on Monday night versus Nashville, has a complex right facial fracture involving the orbital bone, cheekbone and upper jaw bone, per a CT scan. Fowler will have surgery Friday, after which his expected absence will be known and announced. ... Gibson remains one victory shy of 100 career NHL wins. ... Anaheim has successfully killed 23 of its last 26 opponent power-play opportunities.
Ducks: Host Toronto on Friday
Golden Knights: Hosts St. Louis on Friday