LAS VEGAS (AP) — Max Pacioretty scored twice to lead the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night in a matchup of the West Division’s top teams.
Vegas, which has won a franchise-best 10 in a row, now leads Colorado by six points, with the Avalanche having a game in hand. The Golden Knights have outscored teams 45-17 during their win streak.
It marked the 18th time Vegas has scored at least five goals — tops in the NHL.
William Karlsson, Mark Stone, and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury, who has won five in a row, made 35 saves while improving to 15-8-2 lifetime against Colorado.
Devon Toews and Ryan Graves scored for Colorado, which is 11-4-0 after a loss this season, and has now lost three straight. Devan Dubnyk, who came in 4-3-2 with a 2.54 goals-against average and .924 save percentage against Vegas, made 21 saves. Dubnyk is now 2-2 since being acquired from San Jose on April 10.
The Avalanche were burned for their seventh power-play goal in six games at 9:36 of the second period, when Pacioretty gave Vegas a 2-1 lead as he chipped a wrist shot from the blue line. The puck changed direction after it nicked Toews’ stick, confusing Dubnyk. Pacioretty now has a point in a season-high eight straight games.
Stone made it 3-1 just more than 5 minutes later when he banked the puck off the back of Dubnyk from below the red line.
After Vegas turned the puck over in its own zone, Graves beat Fleury with a snapper through a screen from long range to pull the Avalanche within one. With the assist, Nathan Mackinnon extended his point streak to 15 games, the longest of his career.
Moments after killing off a penalty that carried into the third period, the Golden Knights used the league’s stingiest defense to create an odd-man rush with their most dangerous tandem. Stone created a turnover and skated into the zone before passing to Pacioretty, who fired a wrist shot into a wide-open net for his team-leading 24th goal at 55 seconds.
Marchessault’s empty-netter with less than a minute remaining provided the final margin.
Karlsson put the Golden Knights in front just 10 seconds into the game, when he gathered a loose puck fed from defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, raced in, and netted a backhand short side on Dubnyk. It was the fastest goal to start a game in the franchise’s four-year history. He became the third player to score within the opening 10 seconds of a game in 2020-21.
After collecting themselves from a sluggish start and two penalties, the Avalanche kept immense pressure on Fleury and it eventually paid off when Toews smacked home a rebound to tie it with 6:17 left in the first.
Avalanche: Host San Jose in a back-to-back Friday and Saturday.
Golden Knights: Open a four-game road trip in Arizona on Friday.
This post will be updated throughout the game
FIRST PERIOD: Knights goal William Karlsson (13) (Backhand shot) Assists: Alex Pietrangelo (13) and Alec Martinez (20). KNIGHTS 1, AVALANCHE 0, :10 seconds into game. Fastest game-opening goal in VGK history.
Avalanche goal Devon Toews (7) (Wrist shot), assist Carl Soderberg (9). KNIGHTS 1, AVALANCHE 1 after one period. Shots on goal: Avalanche 12, Knights 11.
SECOND PERIOD: Knights power-play goal Max Pacioretty (23), assist Shea Theodore (34). KNIGHTS 2, AVALANCHE 1, midway through period.
Knights goal Mark Stone (19) (Wrist shot), Assists: Chandler Stephenson (18) and Max Pacioretty (26). KNIGHTS 3, AVALANCHE 2.
Avalanche goal Ryan Graves (2) (Snap shot), Assist: Nathan MacKinnon (42). KNIGHTS 3, AVALANCHE 2 after two. Shots on goal: Avalanche 25, Knights 17.
THIRD PERIOD: Knights goal Max Pacioretty (24) (Wrist shot), Assist: Mark Stone (37). KNIGHTS 4, AVALANCHE 2.
Knights empty net goal Jonathan Marchessault (14) (Snap shot). KNIGHTS 5, AVALANCHE 2. final. Shots on goal: Avalanche 37, Knights 26.
Colorado Avalanche (31-11-4, second in the West Division) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (34-11-2, first in the West Division)
T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada; Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. PDT
LINE: Golden Knights -129, Avalanche +106
BOTTOM LINE: The top two teams in the West Division square off when the Vegas Golden Knights host the Colorado Avalanche.
The Golden Knights are 34-11-2 against division opponents. Vegas ranks eighth in the league with 32.6 shots per game and is averaging 3.4 goals.
The Avalanche are 31-11-4 against the rest of their division. Colorado averages 9.2 penalty minutes per game, the seventh-most in the NHL. Liam O’Brien leads the team serving 38 total minutes.
In their last matchup on March 27, Vegas won 3-2. Max Pacioretty recorded a team-high 2 points for the Golden Knights.
TOP PERFORMERS: Pacioretty leads the Golden Knights with 22 goals and has 47 points. Mark Stone has six goals and six assists over the last 10 games for Vegas.
Mikko Rantanen leads the Avalanche with 26 goals and has 52 points. Nathan MacKinnon has seven goals and 11 assists over the last 10 games for Colorado.
LAST 10 GAMES: Golden Knights: 9-1-0, averaging four goals, 6.4 assists, 2.5 penalties and 5.3 penalty minutes while giving up 1.8 goals per game with a .932 save percentage.
Avalanche: 7-3-0, averaging 3.2 goals, 5.8 assists, 5.1 penalties and 12.7 penalty minutes while allowing 2.9 goals per game with an .893 save percentage.
INJURIES: Golden Knights: Keegan Kolesar: day to day (lower body), Reilly Smith: day to day (undisclosed).
Avalanche: Jacob MacDonald: out (lower body), Brandon Saad: out (lower-body), Matt Calvert: out (undisclosed), Dennis Gilbert: out (face), Joonas Donskoi: day to day (covid).