Golden Knights send Avalanche to 2-4 with fifth straight win against conference rivals

Two proud teams off to disappointing starts to the season played to a near draw Tuesday night at Ball Arena.

But the injury-plagued Vegas Golden Knights, looking to snap a four-game losing skid, ultimately claimed the victory by scoring twice within the first 10 minutes of the game and holding on to down the Avalanche 3-1.

Vegas iced the game with an empty-net goal with 29.9 seconds to play.

The Avs (2-4) and Knights (2-4) tied with an NHL-most 82 points in 2021, before Vegas eliminated Colorado in the second round of the playoffs in June. The Knights have now won five straight over the Avs since the playoffs.

The Avs finally produced a goal in the final minute of the second period, cutting their 2-0 deficit in half. It came during a 4-on-4 sequence after a big hit by Colorado defenseman Jack Johnson led to a long stoppage and 37 minutes worth of penalties. Avs defenseman Cale Makar scored with a long wrist shot, with the puck dribbling past the goal line through goalie Robin Lehner’s legs.

Johnson’s hit on Vegas forward Keegan Kolesar was deemed a five-minute major for interference. Knights forward Nicolas Roy went after Johnson and was assessed an instigating minor, fighting major and game misconduct.

Vegas, which was blanked 2-0 by the visiting New York Islanders on Sunday, was opportunistic early. Chandler Stephenson scored 2 minutes into the game and Reilly Smith at 9:37.

Stephenson was the recipient of a fortunate bounce off a rebound, and he backhanded the puck past Darcy Kuemper from in front of the left post. Smith struck shorthanded, while teammate Nicolas Hague was serving a holding minor. In the Avs’ offensive zone, Makar couldn’t handle an ill-advised pass by J.T. Compher, and Smith poke checked the puck out of the zone and went on a breakaway. He beat Kuemper with Compher hounding him from behind.

Vegas was missing more than a handful of regulars to injuries, including forwards Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty, Alex Tuch and Nolan Patrick, and defensemen Zach Whitecloud and Alec Martinez. The Avs are still without forward Valeri Nichushkin, defenseman Devon Toews and goalie Pavel Francouz because of injuries.

Footnotes. Avs defenseman Sam Girard was scratched with an upper-body injury, suffered in overtime on Saturday at Tampa Bay. He was replaced by Kurtis MacDermid, who appeared in his third game. … Colorado will depart for St. Louis on Wednesday and face the Blues on Thursday at Enterprise Center.

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