|Knights host Canucks in only game that matters|
LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights garnered a couple more records for an NHL expansion team with Wednesday night's 7-3 victory over the Calgary Flames.
But for a team that has followed coach Gerard Gallant's "one game at a time" mantra, there wasn't a lot of celebrating afterward.
The loudest cheers, in fact, were reserved for the Canada-USA women's gold medal game on the TV in the locker room afterward.
"That's a great accomplishment so far," Gallant said when asked about breaking NHL records for most points in a season (84) and home wins (23) by an expansion team. "We're real happy and we're playing well, but, to be honest with you, we don't talk about expansion anymore. We really don't."
No, the Golden Knights (40-16-4), who lead the Western Conference and conclude a seven-game homestand Friday night against the Vancouver Canucks at T-Mobile Arena, aren't satisfied with a 10-point lead in the Pacific Division with six weeks to go until the Stanley Cup playoffs begin. And barring a massive collapse, it's fair to say Vegas will be making more history when it takes it spot in those playoffs.
"We know it's our first year and that," Gallant said. "We're talking about playing well and getting points. We've got six weeks to play. That's what the goal is. Paddle hard and get as many points as we can and see what happens on April 7th."
That means not taking the sixth-place Canucks (23-30-7), who have lost 23 of their last 32 games (9-20-3) and are biting their fingernails as Monday's trade deadline approaches, lightly.
"I watched their game against Boston the other night and they had a great game," Gallant said referring to a 6-1 victory over the Bruins Saturday night at Rogers Arena. "They go hard to the net and they have some great young players."
Gallant didn't mention that was just one of two wins in the last nine games for Vancouver, who are coming off a 5-4 overtime loss to Colorado on Tuesday, a game the Canucks allowed five, count 'em, five power-play goals, including one to Nathan Mackinnon in OT.
"When you give up five penalty-kill goals, it's something I've never seen before," center Brandon Sutter, who had a goal and an assist in the loss, said. "It was frustrating to lose in that fashion. I liked our game otherwise."
Here's the scary part for the Canucks: Colorado ranks 15th in the NHL in power-play (20.3). Vegas is seventh (21.3) and also ranks second in goals per game (3.5).
Somewhat overlooked in the win over Calgary was the fact Reilly Smith became the fifth Vegas player to hit the 20-goal mark this season. The Golden Knights had seven goal scorers in the contest, including center William Karlsson who notched his Western Conference leading 31st, and right winger Alex Tuch, who had the first "Gordie Howe hat trick" in team history with a goal, assist and fight.
Left wing David Perron also had two assists to give him a team-high 41 for the season. And goalie Marc-Andre Fleury registered his 20th win of the season (20-7-2, 2.10 goals-against average, .930 save percentage), the 10th time in his career he has hit the 20-win mark in a season. Fleury ranks 13th in NHL history with 395 wins.
"It's unbelievable, obviously," Perron said of breaking the expansion record for points in a season. "Early on it was cool to look at records. I think at this point we're just trying to push teams down (the standings). We just want to keep getting better, and that's what we've been doing."