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Jan 14, 2020, 6:24:00 AM

The Vegas Golden States Finally Lives Up to Preseason Prediction

In every season for every team, there's always this defining moment. It just so happens that this moment might have been the game between the Blues and the Golden Knights.

In Saturday’s game against St. Louis, Vegas trailed by three after the first frame. Given the way that the Blues have played this season, the final 40 minutes seemed somewhat academic for the Golden Knights.

On the strength of a duo in the second and the third, there was a breakaway winner in overtime. Vegas did not only erased the deficit but they left the match against the Western Conference leader with a full two points.

It marked the first time all season the Blues had blown a three-goal lead and only the fourth time they’ve seen a lead of two or more disappear. Vegas being able to win against the defending champions was proof of what the Golden Knights are capable when they’re operating at their best.

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Saying that Vegas is one of the Western Conference’s bests is an obvious statement, it’s like saying that water is wet.

The Golden Knights were a pre-season favourite. Given the odds to win the Stanley Cup, they were seen as the conference’s representatives in The Hockey News’ 2019-20 Yearbook.

After their mediocre start in the season, one saw Vegas no better than .500 as they closed out the first third of the campaign. It seems as though the Golden Knights are finally beginning to pull it all together and meet expectations.

On Nov. 27 Vegas downed the Nashville Predators in overtime to kick off a four-game winning streak. There are few teams in the NHL that have been hotter of course.

Only the Toronto Maple Leafs’ .750 points percentage is greater than the Golden Knights’ .737 mark over that span. Vegas’ 28 points are a league-best total since those final days of November.

Vegas is a threat by playing the same brand defensively and offensively. They played effective hockey that made believers out of pundits before the puck dropped on the campaign.

It should come as no surprise that the Golden Knights have only gotten better over these past few weeks as they’ve settled into the season. Vegas has definitely made strides in the league this season.

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They improved their generation of shots, high-danger chances, and most importantly, goals at five-a-side. The percentage in almost every category has improved for the team.

There is no better team in the NHL with a better-expected goal percentage than this squad since they began their momentum in late November.

Now about that game against the Blues. This was a match in which the Golden Knights looked like they were gonna lose in the first 20 minutes.

That was a game that St. Louis should have won, easily. Yet, when all was said and done, the prediction for Vegas came to life.

By the time Stephenson slipped home the game-winner, Vegas owned a whopping 60 percent of the attempts. They had 56.6 percent of the shots and had a 56 percent expected goals. It was a game that looked to be St. Louis’ to lose after the first frame, but it’s undeniable that it was Vegas’ time to win once all 60 minutes had been played.

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Words: Kathleen Kaiser

Images: PA