BC-HKN--Panthers-Golden Knights,1st Ld-Writethru
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Malcolm Subban has 17 career wins in two seasons with the Vegas Golden Knights. Four of those have been in shootouts, during which he’s never allowed a goal.
Subban made 32 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts, while Shea Theodore’s goal in the second round lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 6-5 win over the Florida Panthers on Thursday night.
“A little antsy there. I got lucky on the first one, but I felt I settled down a little more on the next ones,” said Subban, who has now stopped 16 of 16 shootout attempts he has faced since last season. “Coming with speed in practice, it obviously helps you. In the game, it kind of slows things down. No defenders in practice, guys are coming down full speed, it’s tough to do that in the game, so it definitely makes it easier when you get into the game.”
Vegas, which sits in third place in the Pacific Division, picked up a much-needed two points with the win, as hard-charging Arizona defeated Vancouver 5-2 earlier in the night. The Coyotes are six points behind Vegas in the division.
“I was happy we got the big win obviously, but not happy with the way we played,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “That first period we were a little sleepy and didn’t play well enough. We gave up five goals. I just thought we were a little bit loose.
“But again, it’s two big points at the end of the day.”
Reilly Smith scored twice, while Paul Stastny, Jon Merrill and Colin Miller scored for the Golden Knights.
Vegas, which improved to 19-10-4 at home and 6-7-2 against the Atlantic Division, won its second straight game since acquiring Mark Stone from Ottawa just before Monday’s trade deadline. Though the high-scoring forward remains scoreless with his new team and remains two points shy of matching his career high of 64 points, he’s registered a plus-3 toward his plus-minus rating since joining Vegas.
The Panthers, who came up one point short of the playoffs last season, have been making a push of late, going 5-1-2 in their past eight games and finishing February with an 8-5-2 mark for the month.
“It was a heck of a game, the guys played hard,” Florida coach Bob Boughner said. “What I liked about it the most is how we responded in the third period. It was probably our best period. We just found a way to grab a point.”
The Panthers are eight points behind Carolina, which currently holds the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.
Mike Hoffman scored two goals for Florida, with Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau also scoring for the Panthers. Roberto Luongo, who made his first start against Vegas, made 41 saves. It was the second straight game Luongo was involved in a shootout after Arizona beat the Panthers 4-3 on Tuesday night.
Florida, which is on a four-game point streak (2-0-2), improved to 5-4-3 against the tightly contested Pacific Division.
“Like I’ve said before, in overtime, in a shootout, it’s anybody’s game,” Boughner said. “I just like the way we’re competing and we’re finding a way, we’re scraping a way to get points.”
Stastny, who has a point in 19 of his last 26 games with six goals and 20 assists, opened the scoring three minutes into the game, when he collected the puck after a faceoff in the offensive zone, and pulled the trigger with a quick flip past Luongo.
The Panthers stole the momentum once Vegas committed its first two penalties later in the first period as Hoffman scored consecutive power-play goals from the same spot in the right circle to give Florida a 2-1 lead. Ekblad’s one-time rifle from the top whizzed through traffic to make it 3-1.
Smith, Merrill and Miller completed a trifecta of consecutive goals to make it 4-3 and swing the momentum pendulum back in Vegas’ favor. But Barkov simmered Vegas’ fire when he punched the puck through Subban’s five-hole with less than a minute remaining in the second to tie the game at 4-all.
Huberdeau, who tied a career high with assists (three) and points (four) in a game, made it 5-4 early in the third period when he snapped his own rebound past Subban. Smith provided the equalizer with his second goal of the game when his wrist shot ricocheted off Mike Matheson’s stick, and redirected past Luongo to tie it at 5 with 4:18 left.
NOTES: Goaltender Sam Montembeault, who was recalled from the Springfield Thunderbirds on emergency basis, awaits his NHL debut. ... Two of Vegas’ top four points-getters - Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith - came from the Panthers organization. ... Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant and Vegas forward Brandon Pirri are also former members of the Panthers organization. ... Hoffman, a former Ottawa teammate of Vegas’ newly acquired Mark Stone, leads Florida with 30 goals and 13 power-play goals. ... With his first two-goal game of the season, Smith has a point in eight of his last 10 games (three goals, eight assists) for Vegas. ... Huberdeau has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) over his last seven games.
Florida: Hosts Carolina on Saturday.
Vegas: Visits Anaheim on Friday.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports