LAS VEGAS (AP) — Vegas Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy has bemoaned his team’s recent slow starts.
He didn’t have anything to complain about Saturday night.
Paul Cotter scored twice and the Knights finally off to a good start, easily beating the Washington Capitals 6-2 to end a three-game losing streak.
Vegas went back into first place alone in the Pacific Division 60 points, one point ahead of Seattle.
“I thought we as a team were really good,” Cotter said. “We had a lot of energy off the start. We needed to get back to it. I don’t know what it took exactly, but it was a lot of positivity. So it was easy for me to kind of just play my game and, obviously, two goals is nice.”
Washington captain Alex Ovechkin didn’t play because of a lower-body injury and is listed by the Capitals as day to day. He leads the team with 30 goals and 52 points.
Even if Ovechkin had been on the ice, the Capitals might have had trouble against the Knights.
“They were the better team tonight,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said.
The Knights had looked anything but sharp in losing four of their previous five games. They went 3-4 on a homestand and don’t return to T-Mobile Arena until Super Bowl Sunday.
Nicolas Roy had a goal and two assists for the Knights, Alec Martinez a goal and an assist and Alex Pietrangelo and Chandler Stephenson two assists apiece. Goalie Logan Thompson saved 20 shots to run his career record against Washington to 3-0.
“It it almost felt like we found our game again, like the start of the year,” Thompson said. “We weren’t really giving them much. When we did, the team was so tight in front of me and able to play rebounds.”
Opponents had scored the opening goal in five consecutive games before the Capitals came to town.
Vegas came out firing, scoring two goals in the first 7:36. Martinez buried a rebound when Stephenson’s shot hit the left post, and Roy scored off a pass from Jonathan Marchessault to complete a 2-on-1 breakaway.
“I think when you have a lead and things haven’t gone your way, you start feeling better about yourself,” Cassidy said. “You’re like right away, ‘OK.’ Then all of a sudden when I saw (Stephenson’s) shot off the bar you know, I’m like, ‘Here we go again.’ Good for (Martinez). He needs the goal as much as anybody.”
The Knights added three goals in the second period — from Michael Amadio, Byron Froese and Cotter — to go up 5-0. It was the first goal of the season for Froese, who has spent most of the season playing for the Knights’ American Hockey League affiliate in Henderson.
Froese’s goal with 7:55 left also chased Capitals goalie Darcy Kuemper, who gave up four goals on 18 shots. His replacement, Charlie Lindgren, allowed a goal just 1:34 later.
The Capitals finally scored with 1:40 left in the second when Erik Gustafsson fed T.J. Oshie for the goal.
Both teams traded goals in the third period, with Cotter scoring for the Knights and Marcus Johansson for the Capitals.
LONG ROAD AHEAD
The Knights play their next six games on the road, including the back end of a back-to-back Sunday at Arizona. They then played all three New York-area teams before the NHL All-Star Game break. Vegas goes back on the road for two games after that.
The Knights actually have been better on the road at 15-3-2. Their home record if 14-13.
“We’ve been pretty good on the road,” Cotter said.
Capitals: At Colorado on Tuesday night.
Golden Knights: At Arizona on Sunday night.
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