Neal, Fleury lift Knights again

For­ward notches OT goal; goalie makes 27 saves to top Ari­zona

Las Vegas Review-Journal (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Steve Carp

GLEN­DALE, Ariz. — This hero stuff seems to be agree­ing with James Neal.

The vet­eran for­ward de­liv­ered for the sec­ond straight night, as his goal 3:46 into over­time Satur­day lifted the Golden Knights to a 2-1 come-frombe­hind win over the Ari­zona Coy­otes be­fore a sell­out crowd of 17,125 at Gila River Arena.

“You have to play a pa­tient, sim­ple game and wait for your chances,” Neal said. “I think that’s what we did.”

Neal helped get the Knights even, as his shot from the blue line was stopped by Ari­zona goal­tender Antti Raanta. But de­fense­man Nate Sch­midt skated to the net un­de­tected and put the re­bound past Raanta to tie it with 1:12 to play.

“It’s funny, I saw all this empty space and (Neal) was at the point, so I de­cided to head to the net,” Sch­midt said of his goal, which was recorded as unas­sisted de­spite Neal throw­ing it at the net. “I don’t think they were ex­pect­ing me there.”

The Knights had pulled goalie Marc-An­dre Fleury for an ex­tra at­tacker with 2:18 left after Fleury again was ex­cep­tional in the net. He stopped 27 of 28 shots, and his play helped the Knights come away with four points in their first two NHL games.

“He was great again, but so was their goalie,” Knights coach Ger­ard Gal­lant said. “He gave us a chance to win again.”

Neal’s game-win­ner came off some great work from David Per­ron dur­ing the 3-on-3 OT. Per­ron

main­tained con­trol of the puck and found Neal alone in front. Neal took care of the rest, as he picked up his third goal in two games.

To­bias Rei­der’s first-pe­riod goal ap­peared as if it would stand up for the Coy­otes. But the Knights put tremen­dous pres­sure on Raanta and even­tu­ally solved him

“No­body was pan­ick­ing on the bench,” Sch­midt said. “We were get­ting our chances. It was just a mat­ter of get­ting one to go in.”

Gal­lant has been preach­ing sim­plic­ity since the start of train­ing camp. He never gets hung up on sys­tems of play. He just wants his play­ers

to go out and ex­e­cute each shift. The Knights did that for the most part, and their even­tual 44-28 edge in shots paid off.

Neal, who is still round­ing into form after miss­ing most of train­ing camp after off­sea­son surgery on his bro­ken right hand, hasn’t lost any­thing when it comes to his hockey IQ. He seems to know where to be at the right mo­ment, as ev­i­dent

by his play in the first two games.

“I’m get­ting more com­fort­able with my line­mates, and I think we can be a pretty good line,” Neal said of play­ing with Cody Eakin and David Per­ron. “We’re all un­selfish, and we seem to work to­gether pretty well so far.”

Gal­lant said of Neal and his hero­ics: “He’s play­ing with con­fi­dence, and I hope

he can play like that every night be­cause he can be a great player for us.”

The Knights will come home Tues­day for their first home game, fac­ing Ari­zona again. They’ll do so as an un­de­feated team atop the Pa­cific Divi­sion stand­ings at 2-0.

“We got four points out of a tough road trip,” Gal­lant said. “You know it’s a long year. But we’re off to a great start.

“I thought five of the six pe­ri­ods we’ve played so far we ex­e­cuted re­ally well. If we con­tinue to do that, we’ll have a chance to win every game we play.”

Ross D. Franklin The As­so­ci­ated Press

Golden Knights left wing James Neal (18) is mobbed by his team­mates after scor­ing the over­time win­ner against the Ari­zona Coy­otes on Satur­day night in Glen­dale, Ariz.

Ross D. Franklin The As­so­ci­ated Press

Golden Knights de­fense­man Nate Sch­midt, cen­ter, after scor­ing the ty­ing goal with 1:12 to play, joined by team­mates Erik Haula (56) and David Per­ron.

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