The Vegas Golden Knights' dramatic NHL entry in 2017 coincided with the Anaheim Ducks' decline from several outstanding years. The expansion club immediately dethroned Anaheim as Pacific Division champions and went on to win eight of the clubs' first nine meetings.
With a three-goal barrage Friday night, the Ducks answered back a bit.
Cam Fowler had a goal and an assist while the Ducks scored three goals in 1:37 midway through the second period of a 4-3 victory over the Golden Knights.
Adam Henrique and Max Comtois also scored and Jakob Silfverberg had two assists during the decisive stretch for the Ducks in both teams' first game back from the Christmas break.
Anaheim is struggling to break out of the division cellar and struggling to score goals again this season, but the Ducks were proud of beating the upstart opponent that has dominated them.
“You know that in the back of your mind, so you want to turn that, really,” Henrique said. “I thought we played good from start to finish. They got a couple at the end there, but it was a good team win for us.”
Devin Shore added a third-period goal and John Gibson made 26 saves for Anaheim. Fowler's Ducks were the five-time division champions when the Golden Knights took charge of the Pacific on the way to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final as an expansion club.
“They've had a lot of early success in this league, and we know that we haven't fared that well against them," Fowler said. “I know me personally, I was thinking about the last time we faced them (a 5-2 loss at Vegas on Oct. 27), and it was probably our worst performance of the year. Just got embarrassed and outworked, so we wanted to make amends for that tonight.”
Anaheim trailed 1-0 before capitalizing on a two-man advantage and the ensuing momentum to match the third-fastest three-goal spree in franchise history.
Nate Schmidt had two late goals, while Jonathan Marchessault also scored and Malcolm Subban stopped 14 shots for the Golden Knights. Vegas had been perfect in four previous trips to Honda Center along with its healthy contingent of fans traveling four hours down the I-15.
The Knights almost rallied when Schmidt scored twice in the final 1:52. After snapping his personal 21-game goal drought, the defenseman added his second with 5.7 seconds left. It was too late to stop first-place Vegas from losing two straight in regulation for the first time since Nov. 25.
“It ended up being a 2 1/2-minute span that cost us the game,” Vegas forward Reilly Smith said. “They caught a couple of fortunate bounces, and they went in the back of the net.”
After a scoreless first period, William Karlsson took advantage of a defensive mistake and sprung Marchessault for an unimpeded breakaway. His shot slipped barely inside the top corner above Gibson's glove hand and rattled home for his 13th goal of the season.
The Ducks' offense awoke during a two-man advantage for 46 seconds in the second period. Henrique scored late in the 5-on-3 sequence, and Fowler ripped home a power-play goal 83 seconds later.
Just 14 seconds after that, the 20-year-old Comtois made an exceptional play in front of the net to tip a long shot by Jacob Larsson for his sixth career NHL goal.
“There was still half the game left,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “We could have come back and battled back, and just couldn't find a way.”
Shore's goal gave him 100 career points.
NOTES: The Ducks got their two-man advantage when captain Ryan Getzlaf was accidentally high-sticked in the face by Tomas Nosek. Getzlaf is among the roughly 25 remaining NHL players who don't wear visors, and he went to the dressing room for help with his bloodied face. He returned later in the period. Visors have been mandatory for new players since the start of the 2013-14 season, but veterans who didn't wear a visor before the change are allowed to keep them off. ... Rickard Rakell missed his second straight game for Anaheim after incurring an upper-body injury before the break, but both Getzlaf and Silfverberg returned after missing games with apparent cases of the flu. ... The Ducks scored three goals in 51 seconds and three goals in 96 seconds in late 2010. ... The Ducks visit Vegas for a matinee on New Year's Eve.
Golden Knights: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
Ducks: Host the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.