Golden Knights’ First Trip to Chicago is a Memorable one

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Vegas Golden Knights goalie Malcolm Subban, left, blocks a shot by Chicago Blackhawks right wing Tommy Wingels during the first period of an NHL hockey game Friday, Jan. 5, 2018, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

by Scott King

The Vegas Golden Knights’ storybook inaugural journey found them in Chicago for the first time in hockey history on Friday night.

After shattering virtually every expansion team record known to man, the Knights sat in first place in the Western Conference. The St. Louis Blues crept up two points behind them after Vegas fell in St. Louis on Thursday 2-1.

The Blackhawks, most significantly their top line, have been rolling in their past three games, all on the road, going 2-0-1. Recent call-up, 32-year-old goaltender Jeff Glass, seems to have quickly stollen the backup job from Anton Forsberg. With Corey Crawford out indefinitely with an upper-body injury according to Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, Glass made his fourth consecutive start and first at the United Center on Friday, and Chicago’s first game at the UC in 2018.

Hawks forward Ryan Hartman wasn’t on the ice for warmups prior to the game after participating in the team’s morning skate and was a surprise scratch. Quenneville said he is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Golden Knights shelled the Hawks all first period long. They registered 11 shots on goal in the first 4:44.

Cody Franson was called for hooking early in the first period, setting up Alex Tuch to score Vegas’ first ever goal at the United Center on the power play.

The Knights lit the lamp again later in the first period. Jonathan Marchessault made it 2-0 near the 16 minute mark.

Vinnie Hinostroza brought the Hawks within one goal just under the two minute mark of the opening period by tipping in a Brandon Saad shot. Hinostroza has grabbed a point in each of his last four games.

The forward was recently called up after spending the majority of the season with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs. “Obviously I wasn’t happy [going to Rockford to start the season],” Hinostroza said. “But I made the best of it, stayed in a positive mindset and tried to get better every day.”

Vinnie has seemingly made the right strides everywhere upon his return, and not just on the ice.

“Like I’ve been saying the whole year, I think the mental part of my game is really where it needs to be, and I’m staying even-keeled. I’m not getting up too high or too low no matter what happens. I think that’s big for a young player.”

Vegas’ barrage of shots continued to hit the Blackhawks’ net in the second period.

William Karlsson scored on a juicy rebound to put Vegas up 3-1.

John Hayden tried to light a fire under the Hawks by starting a spirited scrap with Luca Sbisa.

Soon after, Patrick Sharp beat Vegas goaltender Malcom Subban by snipping the upper-left corner to cut the Golden Knights’ lead to 3-2. It was the second time he picked a corner for a goal in two games.

Nick Schmaltz later scored a thrilling equalizer with just under a minute left in the second period.

Jonathan Toews kicked off the third period by putting the Hawks ahead 4-3 just 30 seconds in.

The ping pong match continued as later on in the third, Cody Eakin scored for Vegas to make it 4-4.

Reilly Smith scored the game-winning goal for the Knights on a breakaway with just over six minutes remaining to make it 5-4.

“They’re a good team,” Vegas goaltender Malcolm Subban said. “They have good players and they’re going to make good plays. I felt that on that second goal [if] I stop that one, maybe they don’t get the life back. They kind of got the momentum after that goal and then they were in the game. They were playing like they were capable of playing. Ultimately we got the two points and that’s the most important thing.

Glass ain’t broken

Jeff Glass finished the game with 38 saves on 43 Golden Knights’ shots. It was his third time in his first four NHL games that he finished with more than 35 saves.

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