Jonathan Quick continues to climb the charts among the NHL’s greatest goaltenders. The Vegas Golden Knights continue in their quest to claim top spot in the Western Conference.
The Golden Knights (44-21-6, 94 points) head into Thursday’s road game against the Calgary Flames holding a two-point edge on the Los Angeles Kings, Quick’s former team, in the battle for the top spot in both the conference and the Pacific Division.
Vegas, which missed the playoffs last season, has won six of seven games, the latest being Tuesday’s 4-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Quick stopped 32 shots and collected his 375th career regular-season victory, putting him second to Ryan Miller (391) for most wins among U.S.-born goaltenders.
Quick has won five of six games since being acquired by the Golden Knights from the Columbus Blue Jackets shortly after he was dealt there by the Kings.
“The way it finished up in L.A. wasn’t ideal,” Quick said. “It’s a fresh start here hockey-wise. Playing some important games here down the stretch and trying to help them win the division and secure a playoff spot, it’s fun.”
Vegas has a plethora of top players contributing, the hottest being forward Reilly Smith, who has collected four goals and 11 points in a franchise record-tying nine-game point streak. However, the Knights’ supporting cast is making its mark, too. The top line was held off the scoresheet in Vancouver, but the other three lines lit the lamp.
“When different guys are contributing, everyone is feeling good about themselves, and that obviously leads to them playing better,” said fourth-line center Teddy Blueger, who notched his fourth goal of the season.
The Flames, who won a 7-2 meeting in Vegas last week and have a 2-0-1 mark against the Golden Knights this season, return home after a decisive 5-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday.
Calgary (32-25-15, 79 points), is four points out of a playoff spot with 10 games remaining and desperately needing a miracle run. Rebounding from a humiliating 8-2 loss to the Kings the night before with a complete-game win over the Ducks was a step in the right direction.
“We talked about it. Having two bad starts in a row, we had to be better,” center Mikael Backlund said. “Scoring right away always helps, it gives energy to the group.”
Amid the struggles, the Flames have players who are putting out their best hockey at the right time. Forward Tyler Toffoli equaled a career-high with three assists in Anaheim and has netted nine points in a four-game point streak, while defenseman Noah Hanifin has collected six points in a six-game run (two goals, four assists).
Those achievements are secondary for a team that must go on a mammoth winning streak. Calgary, which has seven of its final 10 games at home, has not won more than three straight games during a disappointing season. And that feat has only been reached twice.
“You’ve got to go a game at a time,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “Because if you don’t, then there’s literally guys in here that were pulling the plug. It’s really simple. You just want to keep every game meaningful.”
There was no word on Wednesday whether defenseman Chris Tanev will be back in action after missing the Anaheim game due to a lower-body injury.
–Field Level Media