The Hurricanes had tied the score with a goal by Sebastian Aho on a power play of their own just 70 seconds earlier. But Aho was called for a hooking penalty with 2:34 remaining, and the Golden Knights won a faceoff and scored the winning goal with just 6 seconds elapsed on the penalty.
''That was a key moment obviously at 3-3 where they had all the momentum, and I liked our response,'' Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said. ''We got back on our toes, we started to attack, drew a penalty, scored on the power play. So big goal, big win, important start to the road trip.''
Jonathan Marchessault had a goal and an assist in the opening 10 minutes as Vegas got off to a fast start after a nine-day layoff. Nate Schmidt and Paul Stastny also scored for the Golden Knights. Reilly Smith assisted on both first-period goals, and Vegas improved to 2-1-1 since DeBoer replaced the fired Gerard Gallant as coach.
Aho and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and one assist, and Brock McGinn also scored for Carolina, which had won two in a row. Petr Mrazek made 33 saves as the Hurricanes overcame their slow start but couldn't finish.
''It's terrible,'' Hurricanes coach Rod Brind'Amour said. ''It's not acceptable to play like that for two periods - two and a half periods - to be honest with you. They were good, I give them a ton of credit. They played desperate, they played fast. They did everything we said they were going to do and we just weren't ready to...match that, and that is what you get.''
With both teams playing for the first time since Jan. 21, the Golden Knights looked fresh while the Hurricanes were sluggish in the opening period. Vegas had 13 of the first 15 shots on goal, and Stastny opened the scoring by slamming home a goalmouth feed from Smith just 3:52 into the game.
Marchessault made it 2-0 at 9:59 when he caught Carolina flat-footed during a line change, received a pass from Smith just past the Hurricanes' blue line and wristed a shot into the net on Mrazek's glove side.
''It's a key time of year,'' Smith said. ''I think we just came out with a little more jump than they did, and took advantage of the opportunity on a couple bounces that we were able to get in the first period.''
Teravainen halved the deficit with the only goal of the second period when he converted the rebound of a miss by Jordan Martinook.
Schmidt extended the Vegas lead to 3-1 in the third period before McGinn and Aho quickly answered to tie it. The crowd came to life as the home team suddenly had an opportunity to win after trailing for almost the entire game.
But the Golden Knights weren't rattled and struck back for the game-winner.
''Obviously at 3-1 in the third period, you want to close that game out,'' Marchessault said. ''But they're a hard-working team. You've got to give credit to them. They came back, but good teams find a way to win. And we did.''
Carolina has been a model of durability this season, becoming the first NHL team in history to have 13 different skaters appear in each of its first 50 games this season. One of those players, forward Nino Neiderreiter, was a healthy scratch Friday for the 51st game of the season. ... Both teams' penalty killing units were hot until late in the third period. The Vegas penalty-killers hadn't allowed a goal in eight consecutive periods, killing seven straight penalties, before Aho scored. The Hurricanes had killed 13 straight penalties over five games before Tuch's goal.
Golden Knights: At Nashville on Saturday night in the fifth of their eight consecutive road games.
Hurricanes: Host Vancouver on Sunday in the last of five straight home games.
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