LAS VEGAS (AP) — J.T. Compher scored a go-ahead goal in the third period, Philipp Grubauer made 36 saves, and the Colorado Avalanche preserved their chances to finish in first place in the West Division with a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday night.
Andre Burakovsky also scored for the Avalanche, who trail the Golden Knights by two points atop the division. Vegas has game left, Colorado has two.
Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Golden Knights. Robin Lehner, facing the Avalanche for the first time this season after Marc-Andre Fleury was in net the first seven meetings, stopped 19 shots.
Billed as the most important game of the year for both, neither team disappointed with every inch of space, despite key players missing from both lineups.
Vegas was limited to 15 skaters due to cap restraints and used 10 forwards with five defensemen.
Forward Peyton Krebs suffered a fractured jaw in Saturday’s victory over St. Louis when he was struck with a shot during the second period and is out indefinitely, general manager Kelly McCrimmon said before the game. Defenseman Alec Martinez, who made nine of the team’s 17 blocked shots, was also injured against the Blues and did not play Monday. Forwards Max Pacioretty, Ryan Reaves, and Tomas Nosek remained out of the lineup with injuries.
Colorado, which got star center Nathan Mackinnon back after missing two games, scratched six players, including regular contributors left wing Brandon Saad and defenseman Samuel Girard, who have combined for 55 points this season.
Vegas opened the scoring in the first period, when Pietrangelo fired a rebound of Nic Hague’s shot from the point, with a one-timer from the right dot over the left shoulder of Grubauer.
Alex Tuch had a chance to make it 2-0 when he skated in with William Carrier on an odd-man rush but missed a wide-open net.
The Avalanche, whose second-period plus-36 goal differential is the best in the NHL in any period, got an equalizer seven minutes into the middle frame when Burakovsky waltzed through the slot and lasered a wrist shot glove side to make it 1-1.
Grubauer was a big reason the game remained tied after two periods, as Vegas had 30 scoring chances, compared to Colorado’s 13.
The Avalanche took their first lead of the game when they took advantage of a rather sluggish line change by Vegas in the third period. After the Golden Knights cleared the puck to the neutral zone and made their switch, Compher bolted from the Colorado bench and grabbed the puck while skating into the zone to start the play by dumping it to Conor Timmins, who passed to Alex Newhook. Newhook sent the puck to the crease, where Compher was there to knock it past Lehner and provide the final margin.
Colorado: Opens a season-ending two-game home series vs. Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Vegas: Finishes the regular season at San Jose on Wednesday.
This thread will be updated throughout the game
FIRST PERIOD: Robin Lehner in net for the Knights, Philipp Grubauer for the Colorado Avalanche.
Knights goal Alex Pietrangelo (6) (Slap shot), Assists: Nicolas Hague (12) and Mark Stone (40). KNIGHTS 1, AVALANCHE 0. Shots on goal: Knights 14, Avalanche 9.
SECOND PERIOD: Avalanche goal Andre Burakovsky (18) (Unassisted). KNIGHTS 1, AVALANCHE 1. Shots on goal: Knights 27, Avalanche 13.
THIRD PERIOD: Avalanche goal J.T. Compher (7) Assists: Alex Newhook (3), Conor Timmins (5). AVALANCHE 2, KNIGHTS 1. FINAL. Shots on goal: Knights 37, Avalanche 21.
Vegas Golden Knights vs. Colorado Avalanche game preview
LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – The Knights have their biggest game of the regular season Monday against the Colorado Avalanche, but a number of their top players will be out of the lineup with injuries.
Forwards Max Pacioretty, Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves are all out for a variety of reasons. Defenseman Alec Martinez is injured and rookie Peyton Krebs fractured his jaw Saturday when he was hit in the face by a puck and required surgery.
The Knights will dress only 15 skaters tonight (10 forwards, 5 defenseman) because of injuries and salary cap issues. Normal is to have 18 skaters (12 forwards, 6 defenseman), to go along with the two goalkeepers.
Colorado Avalanche (36-13-4, second in the West Division) vs. Vegas Golden Knights (39-13-2, first in the West Division)
Paradise, Nevada; Monday, 7 p.m. PDT
LINE: Golden Knights -110, Avalanche -110
BOTTOM LINE: Vegas hosts Colorado looking to continue its seven-game home winning streak.
The Golden Knights have gone 39-13-2 against division opponents. Vegas is fourth in the league recording 9.2 points per game, averaging 3.4 goals and 5.8 assists.
The Avalanche are 36-13-4 against the rest of their division. Colorado is the league leader with 6.2 assists per game, led by Nathan MacKinnon averaging 1.0.
In their last meeting on April 28, Vegas won 5-2. Max Pacioretty scored two goals for the Golden Knights.
TOP PERFORMERS: Mark Stone leads the Golden Knights with 39 assists and has 60 points this season. Jonathan Marchessault has six goals and five assists over the last 10 games for Vegas.
Mikko Rantanen leads the Avalanche with 30 goals and has 61 points. Andre Burakovsky has five goals and eight assists over the last 10 games for Colorado.
LAST 10 GAMES: Golden Knights: 8-2-0, averaging 3.6 goals, 5.8 assists, 3.6 penalties and 7.5 penalty minutes while giving up 2.3 goals per game with a .919 save percentage.
Avalanche: 6-4-0, averaging three goals, 5.3 assists, 3.2 penalties and 6.7 penalty minutes while allowing 2.8 goals per game with an .884 save percentage.
INJURIES: Golden Knights: Tomas Nosek: out (undisclosed), Max Pacioretty: day to day (undisclosed).
Avalanche: Jacob MacDonald: out (lower body), Bowen Byram: out (upper body), Nathan MacKinnon: day to day (lower body), Brandon Saad: out (lower-body), Matt Calvert: out (undisclosed), Dennis Gilbert: out (face).