April 4, 2020

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Stephenson scores in OT, Golden Knights rally past Blues

St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak (21) skates between Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Glass, left, and center Paul Stastny (26) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak (21) skates between Vegas Golden Knights center Cody Glass, left, and center Paul Stastny (26) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS - It's no secret the Vegas Golden Knights haven't fared well against teams with better records this season.

Saturday, with sheer resiliency, the Pacific Division leaders proved they can beat one of the league's best.

Chandler Stephenson scored in overtime and the Golden Knights rallied from an early three-goal deficit to beat the St. Louis Blues 5-4.

Vegas, which improved to 15-6-3 since Nov. 17 and leads the NHL with 33 points in that span, have laid the groundwork since dipping to sixth in the division, but had spent most of the season dominating subpar teams.

While the Golden Knights are 16-6-2 against teams currently outside the playoff picture, they entered Saturday 2-6-1 against the seven teams above them in the standings while being outscored 35-21.

Against all teams that currently would qualify for the playoffs, Vegas is 8-9-4 and has been outscored by a combined 75-60.

The Golden Knights have won four straight — three against teams that would be in the post-season right now — including Saturday's statement victory against the defending Stanley Cup champions.

"It wasn't too much of a statement the first 28 minutes, but after that we played real good hockey," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "You battle back, you never say never in this league.”

Stephenson poke-checked the puck from St. Louis' Robert Thomas, then streaked in on a breakaway and beat Allen with a forehand-to-backhand combo 3:01 into overtime.

"Just kept my momentum from the backcheck and wheeled around the net," Stephenson said.

It was his fifth goal and eighth point in 16 games for the Golden Knights since being traded from Washington on Dec. 2.

The Golden Knights turned things around midway through the second period. Ryan Reaves, Paul Stastny, Nicolas Roy and Reilly Smith also scored for the Golden Knights to erase a 3-0 hole, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves.

Fleury, who announced Friday he is skipping the All-Star Game later this month, earned his 457th career win and is just one behind the New York Rangers’ Henrik Lundqvist for fifth on the career list.

Alex Pietrangelo, Jaden Schwartz, Oskar Sundqvist and former Golden Knight David Perron scored for the Blues. Jake Allen made 28 saves.

After winning a season-high eight consecutive games, the Blues have dropped three straight and have been outscored 15-8 in the losses.

"This league is so tight,” coach Craig Berube said. “You’ve got to keep winning, you’ve got to find a way to get points. We got a point tonight. It’s a big point."

The Blues lead the Western Conference with 59 points (26-10-7), while the Golden Knights are in second in the West with 54 points (24-15-6).

The game featured a highlight reel for players scoring against their former teams, as Perron had three points (one goal, two assists) — his first points since leaving Vegas after playing for the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in the league.

Stastny, who spent 3 1/2 seasons with the Blues, has 12 goals and 31 points against St. Louis; Reaves notched his first goal against St. Louis; and William Carrier, who was drafted by St. Louis but never played for the Blues, had an assist.

NOTES: Since Jan. 2, 2019, the Blues have the best record (56-20-11) and most points (123) in the NHL. ... Gallant and Berube will coach the Pacific and Central Division in this year's All-Star Game. ... Jonathan Marchessault was scratched for the second straight game with a lower-body injury. ... Rookie Cody Glass took a tumble in the third period and was helped off the ice with what appeared to be a lower-body injury and didn't return. ... The Blues are 5-0-3 against the Golden Knights since they entered the NHL in the 2017-18 season and remained the only NHL team that has never lost in regulation against Vegas.

UP NEXT

St. Louis: Hosts San Jose on Tuesday night.

Vegas: Hosts Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.


More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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