LAS VEGAS (AP) — Evgenii Dadonov had a goal and two assists, and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Nashville Predators 6-1 on Thursday night in a game that included a frightening injury.
Golden Knights forward Brett Howden was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher after going headfirst into the boards near the Vegas bench. He was taken to a hospital and was in stable condition, the team said.
Shaking off a strange week that saw him traded to Anaheim at the deadline, only to have the NHL negate the transaction a little more than 48 hours later due to a no-trade clause, Dadonov scored his sixth goal in eight games and has 32 points this season.
“I felt that support from the stands,” said Dadonov, who was in the starting lineup and received a raucous ovation from the crowd of 18,021. “Probably pumped me up even more. I always loved playing here, even when I was coming (from) Florida (to) here. Great experience playing here in front of this crowd. Still think it’s the best fans in the league.”
Mattias Janmark, Nic Roy, Jack Eichel, Chandler Stephenson and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for the Golden Knights. Logan Thompson, making his fifth straight start, stopped 35 shots.
Stephenson added two assists and Jonathan Marchessault had three.
Filip Forsberg scored for Nashville, and Juuse Saros made 44 saves.
Though the Golden Knights were able to celebrate a win that kept them within three points of third-place Edmonton in the Pacific Division, their victory was marred by a scary moment with 3:31 left in the first period when Howden was stretchered off after going down near the Vegas bench. The 23-year-old forward was battling for the puck with Forsberg before losing his balance and getting what appeared to be inadvertently shoved into the boards headfirst.
“I thought liberty was taken. He was in a vulnerable position and I thought he got driven into the boards from behind in a dangerous spot,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “My initial concern was obviously about our player. It was a really dangerous hit, and anytime you see someone get stretchered off your concern is there.”
Medical personnel brought a stretcher onto the ice and tended to Howden, who appeared responsive and raised one of his arms as he was taken off the playing surface after a nine-minute delay. The Golden Knights announced during the game that Howden was in stable condition at a Las Vegas hospital.
After the game, DeBoer said Howden has full movement and he’ll know more Friday.
Nashville coach John Hynes and captain Roman Josi opened their postgame news conference commenting on the situation.
“On behalf of us Predators players and everyone else, we just want to wish Brett all the best,” Josi said. “Scary incident there and everyone was a little shocked, but we’ve heard he’s in stable condition and hopefully his recovery goes well. Just want to wish you all the best.”
Added Hynes: “I’d just like to echo Roman’s statements regarding Brett Howden. On behalf of the Nashville Predators, it’s nice to hear he’s in stable condition and doing well. We support him and wish him all the best.”
Janmark put Vegas on the board 1:31 into the game with a redirect from the high slot off Pietrangelo’s shot from the blue line.
Roy increased the lead later in the period when he gathered a loose puck in the center of the right circle, turned and fired it past Saros in one swift motion.
On a power play in the second period, Dadonov sent the appreciative crowd that welcomed him back with the roar during pregame introductions into another frenzy when he buried a loose puck in front with a backhand.
Forsberg ruined Thompson’s bid for a shutout when he tapped home Josi’s pass across the slot for a power-play goal. With the assist, Josi tied his career high with a point in his 12th straight game.
Eichel pushed the lead back to three when he squeezed through two defenders and found space inside the near post for the Golden Knights’ second power-play goal of the period.
Stephenson and Pietrangeo put an exclamation point on the win with goals late in the third.
NOTES: DeBoer coached in his 1,000th career game. … The Golden Knights also lost center Nolan Patrick early in the game after he played just 1:37 over three shifts. … The Predators lost for the fourth time in 11 games and remain in a third-place tie with Minnesota in the Central Division, one point back of St. Louis. … Forsberg’s 36th goal of the season moved him into a sixth-place tie in the NHL with Boston’s David Pastrnak, who had a hat trick earlier in the night.
Nashville: Hosts the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
Vegas: Hosts the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
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