It was always going to be a tough ask for the Vegas Golden Knights to come into Minnesota after playing nearly 65 minutes against the Winnipeg Jets 24 hours earlier and give the Wild a run for their money.
Thursday’s game eights hours north of Minneapolis was a battle between two of the top three teams in the NHL. And it didn’t disappoint as Vegas set a new NHL record for wins by an expansion team in its inaugural season.
What it did do, however, was empty Vegas’ tank.
So it wasn’t surprising, then, when the final score at Xcel Energy Center read 5-2 after 60 minutes, with the host Wild taking advantage of a cumbersome team unable to leave the starting post.
Vegas appeared flat from the get-go. Eric Staal scored his 21st on a nifty finish (which included this goal call on NBCSN https://twitter.com/NHLonNBCSports/status/959601903134040065) and Charlie Coyle doubled the score to lead 2-0 after 20 minutes.
The Wild managed 19 shots in the first.
By the time the second period was 1:11 old, Minnesota led by three through Tyler Ennis.
Erik Haula continued a trend of Golden Knights players smashing former career highs.
Haula recorded his 20th goal of the season in the second period, Vegas’ first of the game. Haula’s previous best was 15 last year with the Wild.
Vegas has shown plenty of resiliency in their inaugural season, and the goal may have sparked them to further markers on another night, but Jared Spurgeon put them right back into a three-goal hole 10 minutes later.
Minnesota limited Vegas to just five shots in the second.
Nate Schmidt would add his fourth of the season in the second half of the third period. Minnesota’s lead never really look in jeopardy, however, and Staal sealed the deal with his team-leading 22nd into an empty net — quite possibly the easiest of his career — with 89 seconds left.