LAS VEGAS — You don’t make statements in Game 3 of a hockey season. There’s just too much road to be traveled.
Nonetheless … the Blues have won three consecutive road games to start a season for the first time in franchise history. And two of those victories have come against the teams widely considered the best in the West – the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday and the Vegas Golden Knights, 3-1 Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena.
OK, Colorado was without Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. And Vegas was missing Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone on Wednesday. But the victories still count — two points a crack. Next stop, St. Louis and the home opener Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings.
Vegas seemed to be playing in a different league than the Blues last season, going 6-1-1 in the eight-game series and outscoring the Blues 34-19 in the process. But that wasn’t the case Wednesday.
With the aid of an early hooking penalty by William Carrier (on Klim Kostin), the Blues put the pressure on early. St. Louis had the game’s first seven shots on goal; Vegas didn’t get one until 6 1/2 minutes into the contest.
But once Vegas got going, it got going. By the time the high-flying, wide-open period ended, the Golden Knights had 17 shots on goal to the Blues’ 15. One of those 17 got behind Jordan Binnington, and it came on a patented Vegas 2-on-1 rush.
Reilly Smith raced down the left wing, flanked by William Karlsson to his right, and with only Torey Krug back for the Blues. Karlsson took a pass from Smith and broke in on Binnington, who made the initial save and a strong save at that.
But Karlsson was able to get a poke at the rebound, and got it past Binnington — high and to the far side.
Mere seconds after Karlsson’s goal, Klim Kostin had a breakaway, but was turned away by Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner. The Blues continuously tried to go low on Lehner, but he was equal to the task.
Lehner has more wins against the Blues over his career than any NHL team — he entered the night 9-3-2 against St. Louis, and seemed poised for another one in the opening period.