Hoping to make it a historic night in their first ever trip to Las Vegas, the Montreal Canadiens (22-29-7) strolled into Vegas, but were quickly pounced on as the Golden Knights doubled up on Montreal 6-3 on Saturday evening.
Giving backup goaltender Antti Niemi the rare Saturday night start after starter Carey Price has dropped his last eight decisions on the road, the Golden Knights (39-15-4) jumped on a weak Montreal team early and often.
Just over two minutes in, Vegas forward Reilly Smith scored his first of two on the evening.
Charles Hudon responded two minutes later on a great individual effort, driving around Brad Hunt and getting the puck behind Marc-Andre Fleury.
But the Golden Knights responded quickly, as Hunt got revenge with a goal of his own, and the Knights added another from Tomas Nosek. Before the game was even 10 minutes old, the game was 3-1 for the home team. And that’s when Claude Julien had seen enough and pulled Niemi after the netminder faced just six shots.
Although the Habs were steamrolled in Vegas, it was actually Montreal forward Nikita Scherbak who had the highlight-reel goal of the evening for his first of the season when he undressed Fleury.
The second started with more from Vegas, as just three minutes in, they scored two quick ones 39 seconds apart with Ryan Carpenter getting on the scoresheet and Smith getting his second. Undrafted forward Jonathan Marchessault got assists on both goals and had three on the evening to help increase his team lead to 58 points.
The third period saw the teams exchange goals when Vegas blue-liner Nate Schmidt scored to make it 6-2 and then Jonathan Drouin scored his ninth to make it a 6-3 game.
Despite not getting the decision, Price stood as tall as he could despite the potent Vegas offence, making 25 saves and allowing three goals.
It was the Habs’ first ever game in Nevada, and for the Golden Knights, they tied the NHL record for the most wins at home by a new franchise, with 22. It’s impressive to say the least, but especially when they still have 13 games left at T-Mobile Arena before the season is done.
The win for the Golden Knights, coupled with the Tampa Bay Lightning loss, propelled the newest NHL team into first place in the NHL standings.
The Canadiens have now lost five in a row and conclude their four-game road trip with a game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.