LAS VEGAS (AP) — Jonathan Marchessault scored twice, Robin Lehner made 18 saves in his first game in nearly three weeks and the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the New York Rangers 5-1 on Thursday night.
Mark Stone, Mattias Janmark and Brett Howden also scored for the Golden Knights, who stopped a two-game skid and extended their lead in the Pacific Division to four points ahead of Anaheim.
Lehner, who hadn’t played since Dec. 19 due to a lower-body injury, pushed his winning streak to six games.
“I felt pretty good,” Lehner said. “Been working hard to get back. It was nice to get back and get a win.”
Chris Kreider scored for the Rangers, who had won three in a row. Alexandar Georgiev made 30 saves in the opener of a five-game road trip — with the first four out West.
New York remained tied with Washington atop the Metropolitan Division at 48 points.
The visit marked the return of coach Gerard Gallant and fan favorite Ryan Reaves to Las Vegas. Gallant was the first coach in Golden Knights history, and Reaves joined the team midway through its scintillating inaugural season that ended with a Stanley Cup Final loss to Washington.
“Obviously I would have liked to win tonight, coming back to this building,” Gallant said. “Loved our first 25 minutes. We competed hard, played hard, it was a 1-1 hockey game, and from that point on when they scored the second goal it just seemed like everything went the wrong way. We didn’t compete anymore, we didn’t have the hard work, and real disappointing the last 35 minutes."
Marchessault gave Vegas a 1-0 lead near the end of the first period, but the Rangers answered less than a minute into the second when Kreider lasered a wrist shot past Lehner.
Stone, activated off the injured list earlier in the day after missing four games, put Vegas back on top midway through the second. Janmark extended the lead to two later in the period. It was the seventh goal of the season for both Stone and Janmark.
“He brings so many things to our group,” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said of Stone. “A confidence level, a calmness ... Mark Stone is a difference-maker.”
Howden, who has four goals this season, notched his second against his former team early in the third. Marchessault made it 5-1 with his 18th goal.
And while Marchessault could’ve celebrated his fourth multi-goal game of the season, he chose to speak about Gallant, his former coach in both Florida and Vegas, and the team’s task at hand.
“Turk has been great for my career, starting with my time in Florida,” Marchessault said. “It was obviously really nice to see him. He’s always a treat to be around and I was lucky enough to be coached by that guy for a couple of years. It’s unbelievable to have a quality guy coach you like that. It was fun to see him there and obviously, it was a big game for him, but for us, it was business as usual and we got the two points to get back in the win column here.”
NOTES: Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin was placed in COVID-19 protocol, and star forward Artemi Panarin remained in the protocol. ... Before the game, Gallant received a video tribute and was welcomed back with a warm round of applause. The crowd of 18,117 got even louder for Reaves’ tribute video during the first media timeout.
“When you’re attached to a city like I was here ... the memories kind of start flooding in a bit,” Reaves said. “I’m not an emotional guy. I wasn’t expecting that at all, but it got to me a little bit and messed with my game a little.”
New York: Visits Anaheim on Saturday.
Vegas: Hosts Chicago on Saturday.
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W.g. Ramirez, The Associated Press