Golden Knights beat Hurricanes, have best record in NHL

RALEIGH, N.C. — James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault scored to help the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 on Sunday night, giving the expansion franchise the best record in the NHL.

The Golden Knights are 31-11-4, good for 66 points. That’s one ahead of Tampa Bay, which had the night off.

Colin Miller had a goal and two assists, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves for Vegas. The Golden Knights finished 2-1-1 on this road trip, including a 4-1 win Thursday at the Lightning.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Brendan Leipsic also scored for Vegas, which avenged a 3-2 shootout loss to Carolina in December. Neal got his 21st goal of the season, and Marchessault had his 17th.

Jaccob Slavin scored for the Hurricanes late in the first period on a power play. Goalie Scott Darling was lifted after allowing three goals on eight shots in the first.

Bellemare scored less than three minutes in, setting the tone. He took a nifty back pass from William Carrier, who drew two skaters and the attention of Darling. Bellemare put the puck through Darling’s legs for his fifth goal.

Miller and Marchessault scored 39 seconds apart in the first, leading Carolina coach Bill Peters to call his team’s timeout. He then signalled for Cam Ward to replace Darling.

Neal scored on a second-period power play, giving him at least 21 goals in 10 consecutive seasons. He gathered the rebound of Brad Hunt’s shot and poked the puck past Ward.

Carolina, which has lost five of seven, is last in the tight Metropolitan Division.

NOTES: Carolina played its second consecutive game without F Sebastian Aho, the team’s leader in goals and points. Aho has not played since suffering a concussion and an unspecified lower-body injury Jan. 14 against Calgary. … The Golden Knights are 20-1 when scoring first, and Carolina is 3-13-5 when trailing 1-0. … Miller’s goal broke an 0-for-19 skid on the power play for Vegas, which last had an extra-man goal Jan. 2 against Nashville. … Carolina’s Justin Faulk took two penalties in a span of nine minutes in the first and second periods. … Darling entered the game having been successful against Pacific Division teams, going 10-4-7 with a 1.89 goals against average.

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