LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Vegas Golden Knights’ home arena has a reputation among some NHL players as being one of the toughest to play in and loudest in the league.
The Minnesota Wild don’t mind it a bit.
Charlie Coyle scored his second game-winning goal of the season with 5:31 remaining Monday to lift the Wild past the Golden Knights 4-2.
Minnesota, which is 4-0-1 against the Golden Knights since they entered the league, is 2-0-0 in Vegas.
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“It’s a huge win obviously. You get into the later part of the season, so make sure you get every point you can, especially those (close) games,” Coyle said. “It’s a pretty good show here, it’s cool to watch, it’s cool to be part of — we love playing here.”
With the puck loose in front of the net, Jared Spurgeon sent a perfect pass to Coyle, who beat Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury with a high shot that put the Wild in front.
Marcos Foligno, Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu also scored for the Wild. Devan Dubnyk, who has stopped 64 of 67 shots in his last three games, made 30 saves to improve to 3-0-1 against Vegas.
Dubnyk said he was pleased to see faithful Wild fans among the announced crowd of 18,328, and that hearing chants of “Doob! Doob!” after several big saves ignited his play down the stretch.
“This is only our second time here, the atmosphere in the building is incredible,” Dubnyk said. “It’s cool, we get a pretty good following in certain buildings, Colorado will be another one, there’s lots of people from Minnesota that travel there. It makes playing on the road a little more exciting because you got fans cheering. It definitely makes it a lot more entertaining.”
Alex Tuch and Max Pacioretty scored for the Golden Knights, while Fleury made 18 saves.
Vegas, which remained in third place in the Pacific Division behind first-place Calgary and San Jose, came into the game after an emotional 7-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday. But coach Gerard Gallant rebuked the notion his team came in flat after its up-tempo game with the Penguins.
“They scored three goals from the blue paint basically and Flower played an outstanding game when he had to make saves, but he’s not gonna stop them when guys are leaving them wide open in the back door,” Gallant said. “I don’t think we played good today, I don’t think we showed up ready to play a team that was aggressive for points. I don’t think we played hard enough.”
Especially when the Knights had an opportunity to seize control of the game with a 5-on-3 power play, after Ryan Suter was called for slashing 15 seconds into the third period, and Marcus Foligno was sent off for delay of game 49 seconds later.
Minnesota came into the game boasting the league’s second-best penalty kill, and limited Vegas to just two shots on goal during its power play, while blocking five other shots. The Wild has been successful on 23 of their last 26 penalty kill situations.
“I thought once we killed the 5-on-3 it really energized the bench and they thought they were going to do anything not to lose at that point,” Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Anytime you can kill a 5-on-3, that team usually wins.”
Vegas did get one power-play goal, though, after Jonathan Marchessault drove into the offensive zone and delayed just enough to draw Dubnyk to his left before feeding Tuch, who gave Vegas a 1-0 lead. The Wild answered with two second-period goals in a span of 1:13 with scores by Foligno and Staal. Vegas tied the game when Paul Stastny found USA Hockey linemate Pacioretty, whose shot beat Dubnyk between the pads. Koivu’s empty-net goal with 13 seconds left was the 200th goal of his career.
The victory moved the Wild past Dallas, Colorado and Vancouver in the Western Conference wild-card race, and into third place in the Central Division. Minnesota takes on Colorado on Wednesday, the final game before the All-Star break for both teams.
“Believe me, it’s not gonna stay this way,” Boudreau said. “There’s gonna be a lot of interchanges before this season is out. But every time you can pick up two points, you’re closer to being where you want to be.”
NOTES: Vegas and Minnesota announced a trade after the game. The Golden Knights acquired a 2019 fifth-round draft pick for D Brad Hunt and a 2019 sixth-round pick. … Vegas D Colin Miller had two assists, and has four in his first two games back after missing 13 games. … Marchessault is two assists shy of 100 in his career. … Wild C Matt Hendricks was a healthy scratch, and remains one game shy of playing in the 600th of his career. … Minnesota W Jason Zucker grew up in Las Vegas before moving to Los Angeles for hockey for two years when he was 11. … The Golden Knights are 15-6-3 since the start of December, and 6-3-0 in 2019.
Minnesota: At Colorado on Wednesday.
Golden Knights: Host Nashville on Wednesday.
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