Dansk party: Goalie halts Blackhawks, leads Vegas to 4-2 win
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Next man up.
It’s become the mantra for the Vegas Golden Knights, and fitting for a team that lost its top two goalies to injuries in the first three weeks of the season.
Without Marc-Andre Fleury or Malcolm Subban, the Golden Knights’ next man up is Oscar Dansk, and he’s answered the call.
Dansk stopped 29 shots for his second win in two career appearances, and the Golden Knights beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2 on Tuesday night to become the first expansion team to win seven of its first eight NHL games.
Vegas won its fourth straight and improved to 7-1-0 in its inaugural season.
“Everything’s gone our way right now, we’re working hard and competing hard,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s all about a team with us. It’s a team game and that’s how we want to play.”
Dansk made his first NHL start after replacing an injured Subban during a 3-2 win over the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. The 23-year-old gave up goals to John Hayden and Patrick Kane, but was otherwise stellar for the Golden Knights.
“I try not to think about it too much. I just tried to play my game,” Dansk said. “They’re top-10 players in the world. I was just trying to do my part.”
Things didn’t start so well, though, as Hayden stuffed one between Dansk and the left post just 3:33 into the game for a short-handed goal.
The Golden Knights didn’t take long to answer. William Karlsson tipped Colin Millers’ shot from the point past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.
A little more than a minute later, Tomas Nosek pushed Deryk Engelland’s rebound under Crawford’s pads to give the Golden Knights a 2-1 lead.
Dansk came up with one of his biggest saves of the game with 6:18 left in the second period when he stopped Kane’s wrist shot during a 2-on-1 break.
Pierre-Edourard Bellemare extended the lead to 3-1 late in the second when he smacked Nosek’s pass from behind the net past Crawford.
With 12:20 left in the game, Dansk came up with another big save when he stoned Patrick Sharp’s point-blank shot on a breakaway.
“That was big,” Gallant said. “It’s Dansk, a young goalie in there, and Sharp’s a goal scorer. He’s a sniper, and that’s when he takes advantage of stuff. I thought that was a huge save for us. There’s still a lot of time left in the hockey game at that point ... and that time the young kid made a big save for us.”
Activated from injured reserve hours before the game, Jonathan Marchessault took a pass from Nate Schmidt and hit the upper left corner of the net with a shot Crawford never saw, making it 4-1 with 9:40 remaining.
Kane finished the scoring with 1:05 left, extending his point streak to six games, the longest this season by a Blackhawks player.
The Golden Knights went 2 for 5 on power-play opportunities, while Chicago was 0 for 3.
“Power play wasn’t very good tonight,” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “Give them credit; they have a lot of structure to their game. They might have been quicker in certain areas.”
Vegas outshot Chicago 33-31, the seventh time in 10 games the Blackhawks have been outshot.
“It starts in the offensive zone. Our sticks aren’t in the right areas,” Chicago center Jonathan Toews said. “We’re letting teams break out on us a little too easy. It just seems like we get one chance, a puck for one play and we turn it over and then it’s back in our own zone.
“We were maybe getting a little bit jumpy with it and they were pressuring us hard and we weren’t quite getting clear possessions of draws in their zone.”
Crawford stopped 29 of 33 shots.
NOTES: Washington Nationals star and Las Vegas High School grad Bryce Harper was at the game. ... The Golden Knights came in allowing 2.43 goals per game, fourth-best in the league, with the Blackhawks right behind at 2.44. ... Vegas reassigned Vadim Shipachyov to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves to make room for Marchessault, who has enjoyed success against Chicago, including a hat trick last March. He has a pair of three-point games against the Blackhawks in his career. ... Though he didn’t register a point, Golden Knights left wing James Neal has 20 points (14 goals, six assists) in 28 games against Chicago. The Blackhawks are one of four teams Neal has recorded at least 20 career points against. ... Chicago came into the game having killed off 22 of 25 penalites over its previous six games. It killed four of five against Vegas. ... Duncan Keith leads the Blackhawks with seven assists but has yet to score a goal.
Chicago: Hosts Vancouver on Friday night.
Vegas: Hosts Colorado on Friday night.
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