NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP)Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone each had a goal and an assist, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Nashville Predators 5-2 Wednesday night.
Jonas Rondbjerg, Adam Brooks and Alex Pietrangelo also scored for Vegas, and Robin Lehner stopped 26 shots.
”I really liked our game tonight” Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. ”We played an honest, good hard-working road game.
Filip Forsberg scored two late goals for Nashville after ending a nine-game injury absence. Juuse Saros made 30 saves.
Stephenson skated low into the slot to beat Saros with a wrist shot low to his stick side for the first goal of the game with 48 seconds left in the first period. Stone assisted on the goal.
”We were close to not getting rewarded for the work we put in,” DeBoer said. ”I thought we had some good looks in the first and played well enough to be up. But the first one takes some pressure off you.”
At 3:01 of the second period, Vegas extended the lead to 2-0 when Rondbjerg stole the puck in the Predators zone and scored on a breakaway with a wrist shot over Saros’ left shoulder.
The Golden Knights scored again at 11:12 of the third when Brooks found Saros out of position to his right side and put a wrist shot from the top of the crease into the open side of the net. Keegan Kolesar and Mattias Janmark assisted.
Nashville found the net at 5:20 of the third period when Forsberg scored on a breakway, beating Lehner with a backhand to his stick side. Matt Duchene assisted.
The Golden Knights extended their lead to 4-1 when Pietrangelo scored a short-handed goal from the right faceoff circle with a wrist shot on a 2-on-1 break with 11:56 remaining.
With 6:09 left, Forsberg struck again with a power-play goal, beating Lehner high to his glove side a wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle. Roman Josi and Ryan Johansen assisted.
Stone scored an empty-net goal with 1:52 remaining. Max Pacioretty added an assist.
”Vegas is a good team and they forecheck well,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. ‘When you look at the decisions we made and the execution those were big issues for us.”
He had not played since leaving with an upper-body injury in the third period of a 3-2 overtime victory at Calgary on Nov. 2.
He quickly found his game with two goals in his return. He missed a hat trick as the result of a challenge.
Forsberg appeared to have broken the shutout as he attempted to make a pass that bounced off Ben Hutton and into the Vegas net with 3:57 remaining in the second period. But Vegas challenged the goal and it was disallowed due to goaltender interference by Nashville’s Tommy Novak.
”It was good to see him get back and be rewarded for his hard work,” Hynes said. ”He got a couple on the board. He had a lot of energy.
”There are some things in his game he needs to clean up. It is tough when you are off that long and away from the team, but he was firing the puck and that is a big strength of his.”
THE ”PAC” IS BACK
Pacioretty returned from injured reserve after 17 games. He had not played since the second game of the season due to a lower-body fracture sustained against the Los Angeles Kings. He was a game-time decision for Vegas and played on the starting line with Stephenson and Stone. The three linemates combined for five points, with two goals and three assists.
”He’s a thoroughbred as a player” DeBoer said. ”He had a non-weight-bearing injury that he had to basically stay off for five weeks. So he wasn’t allowed to do anything.
”He’s had a week of skating and he jumps in, played 17 minutes, and looked really good. It is so nice to have him back. Not many guys can do that.”
William Carrier also was back in the lineup after being removed from the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols.
Golden Knights: Host Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
Predators: Host New Jersey Devils on Friday night.
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