Short-handed goal by Smith helps lift Knights past Avs 3-1


  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper, right, makes a stick save of a shot by Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith, left, as Colorado left wing J.T. Compher helps to defend in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson celebrates after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson, left, reaches out to control the puck as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar covers in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Evgenii Dadonov (63) takes the puck off his knee as Colorado Avalanche defensemen Cale Makar, front left, and Bowen Byram, front right, look on as goaltender Darcy Kuemper, back, protects the net in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner makes a stick save of a shot while facing the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver.
    Associated Press


  • Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog, right, has his shot stopped by Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner, back left, as defenseman Alex Pietrangelo looks on in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith, front, is tied up by Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson, front right, celebrates scoring a goal with right wing Reilly Smith, front left, against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper, back, in the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner, center, is congratulated by defensemen Daniil Miromanov, left, and Brayden McNabb after the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver. The Golden Knights won 3-1.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner, right, protects the net as Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher waits for a pass in the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver. The Golden Knights won 3-1.
    Associated Press


  • Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague, left, fights for control of the puck with Colorado Avalanche left wing Sampo Ranta in the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver. The Golden Knights won 3-1.
    Associated Press


  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Murray, front, fights for control of the puck with Vegas Golden Knights center Jake Leschyshyn in the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021, in Denver. The Golden Knights won 3-1.
    Associated Press

  • DENVER — Vegas forward Evgenii Dadonov had nothing but open ice and an empty net in front of him.

    Instead of scoring the easy goal to seal the win, he passed the puck back to teammate Keegan Kolesar and let him have the honor. Just a way to concede the contributions of Kolesar, who took quite a hit earlier in the game.

    Reilly Smith scored a short-handed goal, Robin Lehner stopped 26 shots and the injury-plagued Golden Knights snapped a four-game slide with a 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night.

    Chandler Stephenson also scored and Kolesar additional the empty-netter with 29.9 seconds left to wrap up the win in the matchup between two of the top teams in the West who haven’t exactly been playing at their best.

    Vegas has a valid reason – injuries to big names.

    ‘We needed a win,’ Vegas coach Pete DeBoer said. ‘We committed to defending hard and you need to against that team. We got some timely saves and a associate of big goals. Good formula for us.’

    The Avalanche just haven’t been able to hit their stride so far this season. They dropped to 1-2 at Ball Arena after finishing 22-4-2 in friendly confines a season ago, which was tied for the most wins.


            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            

     

    Cale Makar had the only goal for Colorado. Darcy Kuemper settled in after a rough start to make 26 saves.

    ‘We’re sort of stumbling and bumbling along right now,” Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “So there’s a there’s a level of concern.’

    The game was stopped for several minutes late in the second period as the officials took a look at a hit delivered by Avs defenseman Jack Johnson on Kolesar near the benches. Johnson appeared to catch Kolesar up high and knocked him to the ice. Kolesar’s teammate Nicolas Roy closest tossed his gloves and went after Johnson.

    Roy drew a five-minute major for fighting, two more as instigator and a game misconduct. Johnson was hit with a five-minute major for interference, another five-minute major for fighting and a game misconduct.

    Right after things were sorted out, Makar scored to make it 2-1.

    Colorado nearly tied it with 8:32 remaining on a wrap-around try by captain Gabriel Landeskog. But the stick of diving defenseman Nicolas Hague helped keep the puck out of the net until Lehner could smother it.

            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            

     

    The Avs pulled Kuemper with around 1:50 remaining, but couldn’t capitalize. That sort of start to the seasonn.

    ‘There’s no panic at all,’ Makar said. ‘We’re (six) games in and we could win the next (76); clearly that’s probably not going to happen, but at the end of the day you can think like that. Slow starts happen and we just have to build off it as a team. It just builds character.’

    Lehner made saves every way possible, including one by sitting down on the puck just in front of the goal after a shot by Sampo Ranta in the second period. Lehner is now 18-8-2 with Vegas in the regular season since being acquired from Chicago on Feb. 24, 2020.

    This was an expected early season clash after Colorado and Vegas met in the second round of the playoffs last season. The Golden Knights won the series 4-2.

    Stephenson scored two minutes into the game and before fans already had a chance to settle into their seats.

    Later in the period, Smith stole the puck with the Avalanche on the strength play and skated in on Kuemper, who poked it away with his stick and right to William Karlsson. Although Karlsson was originally credited for the goal, it was changed to Smith.

    It was Smith’s seventh short-handed goal for Vegas.

    ‘That’s Vegas hockey, how we played tonight,’ Stephenson said.

    GIRARD OUT, TOEWS CLOSE

    The Avalanche were without defenseman Samuel Girard after he took a hit against Tampa Bay on Saturday.Bednar said Girard remains day to day.

    Devon Toews (shoulder) may be nearing a return. He was recently cleared for controlled contact in practice.

    BANGED-UP KNIGHTS

    The banged-up Golden Knights are missing quite a few players, including Alec Martinez, Max Pacioretty, Mark Stone, Alex Tuch and Zach Whitecloud.

    ‘It’s the cards we are dealt right now,’ Stephenson said of the injuries. ‘It’s tough but I think tonight’s a big stepping stone and something to build off.’

    UP NEXT

    Golden Knights: At Dallas on Wednesday.

    Avalanche: At St. Louis on Thursday.

    ___

    More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/center/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            
            



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