Blackhawks hope to pick on Vegas' third-choice goalie
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LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights' successful start as an NHL expansion franchise has not been hindered by a series of injuries because others stepped up to fill the void.
Now they are faced with a true challenge, as a second goaltender, Malcolm Subban, landed on injured reserve.
Subban, who replaced Marc-Andre Fleury (concussion) last week, is expected to miss approximately a month with a lower-body ailment.
The Knights (6-1-0) called up goaltender Maxime Lagace from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League to replace Subban heading into their game with the Chicago Blackhawks (5-2-2) on Tuesday night at home. The game is the sixth of Vegas' seven-game homestand.
"Injuries provide opportunities for others, and that is the situation we have here," Vegas general manager George McPhee said. "Our top two goaltenders are currently sidelined, so we will now give our AHL goalies the chance to play in their absence. We felt Oscar Dansk performed well in relief on Saturday in his NHL debut."
Dansk, 23, entered after Subban got hurt against the St. Louis Blues, and he made 10 saves on 11 shots in the Golden Knights' 3-2 overtime win. Dansk was a second-round draft pick by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2012.
Subban, 23, has a 2-0-0 record with a 2.06 goals-against average in three games for the Golden Knights. He was picked up by Vegas on Oct. 3 after he was waived by the Boston Bruins at the end of training camp.
In Vegas' win over the Blues, Subban stopped 37 of 38 shots before he was injured in the third period. He has given up six goals on 94 shots.
"Obviously, it (stinks) that Malcolm went down," Dansk said. "He's been playing unreal, and I'm hoping that he recovers quickly. A lot of things, a million things actually, were going through my mind. I just tried to focus on the next puck and the next save I had to make."
Lagace had a 2-2-0 record with a 3.24 GAA in four games this season with the AHL's Wolves. Last season with the AHL's Texas Stars, the undrafted 24-year-old posted an 11-12-2 record with a 3.56 GAA and a .883 save percentage.
An example of Vegas' resourcefulness in time of an injury crisis -- Alex Tuch and Vadim Shipachyov were both recalled from Chicago of the AHL in mid-October because of injuries to others and each promptly scored his first career NHL goals in a win over the Boston Bruins.
Tuch scored again in the next game, an overtime victory over the Buffalo Sabres.
The win over the Blues enabled the Golden Knights to become the first team in NHL history to win six of the first seven games in its inaugural season.
"It feels good obviously," said William Karlsson, who slapped in a Reilly Smith pass with 23.8 seconds left in overtime to beat St. Louis.
"It's always fun to win. I haven't really thought about the records right now. We come to the rink, have fun, work hard, and it's the same when we play the games. So far so good."
Chicago comes to Vegas after a 4-2 win at Arizona on Saturday, which was the Blackhawks' third game in four days. After playing a winless Coyotes team, the Blackhawks now face one of the most confident in the NHL despite the Golden Knights being only eight games into their existence.
Patrick Kane scored his second goal in as many games against Arizona, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith each had two assists, and Corey Crawford made 27 saves for Chicago, which had lost two straight.
Despite the Coyotes' struggles, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said his team learned from the way Arizona played.
"They gave us a different look," Quenneville said. "Not just skill. Some hard work, some physicality, some puck possession. Those are the kind of goals you score in our league -- second opportunities, traffic at the net.
"I think that's something moving forward (others) can take a page out of what they're doing."
The Blackhawks are treating their extended stay in Las Vegas -- they were in Sin City for two days leading into the Tuesday game -- as a business trip. Vegas has won four of its five home games, which is a concern for the Blackhawks.
"It's a good thing our team has experience going to Vegas here and there (for exhibitions) and having some fun team outings and bonding, having some laughs, enjoying ourselves," Toews told the Chicago Sun-Times. "When we get back to the rink on Monday, it'll be time to really make sure we're physically and mentally ready for that game on Tuesday."
Updated October 24, 2017