LAS VEGAS (AP) — The Vegas Golden Knights know the importance of winning at home.
Last season they went 29-10-2 on home ice during the regular season, en route to their remarkable run to the Stanley Cup Final.
This year, once again, the defending Western Conference champions are taking advantage of the atmosphere inside T-Mobile Arena.
Alex Tuch got his 10th goal of the season and the Golden Knights won their fifth straight at home, beating the Dallas Stars 4-2 Sunday night. Vegas improved to 10-3-1 at home.
“It doesn’t feel common because it’s so loud and the building is unbelievable and I’ve never seen nothing like this,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “I’ve been in the NHL quite a long time — this is incredible. Every game we play the crowd just gets behind us and they really lift our hockey team.”
Ryan Carpenter, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith also scored, while Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 22 shots.
Tuch became the fifth Golden Knights player to reach double figures in goals just before the end of the second period, when he chopped a loose puck just past defenseman Miro Heiskanen’s skate and through goaltender Ben Bishop’s five-hole to give the Golden Knights a 3-1 lead.
“It’s a 20-man effort, 20-man win, we need it every night for 60 full minutes and I thought we had it tonight,” Tuch said. “Everyone is working hard and if you made a mistake — I made plenty out there tonight — but you know what, you forget about it, you go out and give a better shift the next time around. That’s what (Gallant) is all about and that’s what this organization is all about. And I thought all 20 guys played hard and had a lot of heart tonight.”
The Golden Knights and Dallas have two of the best penalty kills in the NHL, both coming into the game ranked in the top five.
For the second time in four games the Golden Knights were faced with killing an extended penalty, as Shea Theodore was sent to the box for high sticking with Vegas leading 3-2. Fleury stopped all three shots during the four-minute double-minor, while Nate Schmidt had two takeaways and Brayden McNabb blocked another shot.
“That was the game,” Gallant said. “We were up by a goal with a double-minor to kill late in the hockey game and I don’t know if they really got a chance, maybe one or two, but I thought our PK was outstanding when it had to be. Sure, they got two (power play) goals earlier in the game but when they really had to step up, they did an unbelievable job and that was real key for us winning.”
The Stars, who came into the game ranked 21st on the power play, were 2 for 4 with an extra man.
Martin Hanzal and Esa Lindell scored for Dallas, and Bishop made 24 saves. The Stars snapped a four-game winning streak.
“In this league you need a top-notch effort to have a chance in this league every night,” Dallas coach Jim Montgomery said. “I thought that they outcompeted us tonight.”
After Hanzal gave Dallas a 1-0 lead early in the first period, Vegas tied the game when Carpenter gathered the loose puck from a rebound and fired it into the open net near the end of the first. It was the second straight game the Golden Knights’ often-quiet third line scored, providing balance to a team that ranks 17th in the league with 2.97 goals per game.
The Golden Knights scored a pair of even-strength goals immediately following power-play opportunities in the second period.
Karlsson lasered the puck through Bishop’s pads 3 seconds after the Stars killed off an interference penalty on Hanzal, and Tuch’s game-winner came nine seconds after Brett Ritchie left the box for roughing. Smith’s empty-net goal with 28 seconds left provided the final margin.
The Golden Knights now take an 8-2 win streak on the road for a four-game road trip through New York, New Jersey and Columbus.
NOTES: Karlsson has scored a goal in five of his last eight games. … Vegas leads the NHL with 887 hits, but were outhit by the Stars, 31-23. … In his first two games back on the ice, Hanzal, who had spinal fusion surgery in March and made his season debut on Friday, is 13 for 21 (61.9 percent) from the faceoff circle in 26:06 of ice time. … Vegas, which was 1 for 5 with a man advantage, has scored a power-play goal in 12 of its last 17 games. … Dallas and Vegas are now tied with 35 points and sit No. 1 and No. 2 in the wild-card spots, respectively.
Dallas: Continues its four-game trip at Anaheim on Wednesday night.
Vegas: Opens a four-game trip at the New York Islanders on Wednesday night.
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