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Vegas Golden Knights face Columbus Blue Jackets on successful road trip

By Doug Bean, The Sports Xchange
Vegas Golden Knights face Columbus Blue Jackets on successful road trip
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (R) makes a save in the first period on January 4, 2018 at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis. File photo by BIll Greenblatt/UPI | License Photo

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Vegas Golden Knights will be looking to end an already-successful trip with another road win on Monday night in a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Golden Knights (19-14-2) make their only visit to Nationwide Arena this season after a 4-3 victory in overtime over the New York Rangers on Sunday afternoon. Vegas bounced back from a 5-4 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils on Friday after beginning the trip with a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders.

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"It's been excellent," Golden Knights head coach Gerard Gallant said of the Eastern Conference swing. "Obviously disappointed the other night in Jersey with the comeback there. But after three games we've got five points. So we've got one more big one [Monday] and hopefully get something out of that."

The Golden Knights have hit their stride in the past few weeks. They've accumulated a four-game points streak and gone 10-2-1 in their past 13 games.

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"I think everyone showed up," Vegas forward William Carrier told reporters after Sunday's game. "These games on the road, all the teams are going to show up. It starts on the first line and I think everyone did their job.

"I don't think we were playing the right way the entire trip. [Sunday] was one of our best games and we'll keep rolling into Columbus and try to get the two points."

Sunday's highlights included veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury tying Tony Esposito for ninth place on the NHL career wins list with 423 and offseason free-agent signee Paul Stastny scoring his first goal for the Golden Knights after missing 30 games with a lower-body injury.

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Fleury has started 13 games in a row and 31 overall, posting a 2.58 GAA, .907 save percentage and an NHL-best five shutouts.

"Since the day we got him in the expansion draft, he's the leader of our group and obviously he's one of the best goalies in the NHL," Gallant said. "He gives us a chance to win every time."

Other Vegas highlights were Alex Tuch delivering the winning goal at 2:11 of overtime and forward Max Pacioretty assisting on Stastny's goal in his return after sitting out one game with an undisclosed injury.

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"I thought we played a good overall game," Tuch said. "I thought we had a lot of 'o-zone' time. That obviously starts in the 'd-zone.' We cleaned up our game a lot and it really showed up on the scoreboard."

The Blue Jackets (17-12-3) haven't been rewarded on the scoreboard lately but are pleased with the way they've played in the past few games. They've dropped three of four during a season-long six-game homestand.

Their lastest loss came Saturday night in overtime against the Anaheim Ducks in a physical, 2-1 defensive affair.

"It's never easy to take a loss," Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella said.

But he continues to be positive in the midst of the frustrating results. Despite the recent lack of wins, Columbus remains in second place in the Metropolitan Division.

"I think we should have more points out of these three games than we have," Tortorella said. "But I think a lot of coaches can stand up at the podium and say that during the year.

"I'm going to judge the team on how they're playing. I think we have found a good little piece here in these three games of playing the right way. We just have to stay with it."

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The Blue Jackets finished with 15 more shots than the Ducks but couldn't solve goaltender John Gibson. Markus Nutivaara scored the lone Columbus goal in the first period.

"I thought we played well," Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois said. "I thought we had our chances. Unfortunately, we didn't get the two points."

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