The Vegas Golden Knights scored three goals in the third period for a 6-4 win against the St. Louis Blues in a Stanley Cup Qualifiers round-robin game at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Thursday.
“They have a lot of firepower, both teams are pretty deep,” Vegas forward Alex Tuch said. “I think it was a little bit too back-and-forth at times with the chances, but we were able to close it out.”
Tuch and Shea Theodore each scored two goals, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 13 saves for the Golden Knights (2-0-0), who will end round-robin play against the Colorado Avalanche (2-0-0) on Saturday in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city. The winner will be the top seed in the West for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the loser will be No. 2.
“Home-ice advantage is not just playing at T-Mobile (Arena in Las Vegas),” Golden Knights forward Mark Stone said. “There’s last change, there’s little things like that that come to be so important in a playoff series. We came to Edmonton wanting to play our best hockey, whether that got us three wins or got us no wins. So long as we’re playing well, we feel confident against anyone.”
Colton Parayko scored two goals, and Jordan Binnington made 32 saves for the Blues (0-2-0), who will play the Dallas Stars (0-2-0) on Sunday to decide the No. 3 and No. 4 seeds. St. Louis, the defending Stanley Cup champions, had the best points percentage in the Western Conference this season (.662).
“We have to make sure we’re dialed in there [at practice], working together, and after that we have to be ready for Sunday,” Parayko said. “Dallas is a good team, they always play us hard. So just make sure we play tight, play our style of hockey, and there’s no doubt we can do that.”
The Golden Knights also came from behind against the Stars on Monday, scoring four goals in the third period in a 5-3 win.
“You hope it galvanizes your group,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “At the very least, I think you know you can bank that feeling for the future, so when we’re in a hole we know the game’s not over and we have that confidence and we can come back. I think it’s a great thing. I thought tonight we played 60 solid minutes with a real good response game to last game.”
Stone put Vegas ahead 5-4 at 12:31 of the third period, and Theodore scored from the right point at 14:49 to make it 6-4.
“We got a tight group,” Theodore said. “We know we can score goals. I thought we did a good job controlling the puck. We had a lot of good breakouts. I thought we had guys stepping in the lanes with some big blocks as well. It’s a team effort, but I think we did a great job.”
The Blues took a 1-0 lead at 4:02 of the first period when David Perron shot five-hole from between the face-off circles. Parayko made it 2-0 at 1:45 of the second period, chipping a loose puck off Fleury’s left shoulder.
The Golden Knights closed to 2-1 at 6:50 on a power-play goal by Theodore.
Tuch scored twice 2:26 apart to give Vegas the lead. He converted Tomas Nosek‘s pass in front at 10:47 to tie it 2-2 and put in a backhand on a power play at 13:13 to make it 3-2.
The third line of Tuch, Nick Cousins and Nicolas Roy combined for five points (two goals, three assists).
“I thought those guys, they hop over the boards, they’re not just killing time, they’re looking to create offense and score, and they can be dangerous,” DeBoer said. “When [Tuch] is playing like that, he’s a hard guy to handle.”
The Blues regained the lead on goals by Parayko and Troy Brouwer 21 seconds apart. Parayko scored on a wraparound at 14:07 to tie it 3-3, and Brouwer followed with a shot from the lower right circle at 14:28 for a 4-3 lead.
Vegas tied 4-4 at 2:01 of the third period when Zach Whitecloud scored with a shot from the base of the right circle.
“Listen, coming into this playoffs here, this round-robin, I’m not sure that our guys have really brought the intensity to the first two games,” Blues coach Craig Berube said. “In the Colorado game (a 2-1 loss Sunday) there were spurts at times. But right now, these two games, the other teams have been more competitive and more hungry than we have. Our compete level has to come way up [against Dallas].”
The Blues scratched forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas, and defenseman Carl Gunnarsson. As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, a team is not permitted to disclose player injury or illness information.
Tarasenko played in a 4-0 exhibition loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on July 29 and in the first round-robin game. They were his first games since Oct. 24 following shoulder surgery.
“Just precautionary stuff,” Berube said. “He’s fine.”
NHL.com staff writers Tracey Myers and David Satriano contributed to this report