NHL-Highlights of Thursday’s NHL games

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Dec 14 (The Sports Xchange) – Highlights of National Hockey League games on Thursday:

Golden Knights 2, Penguins 1

The historically successful start for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights got even more rich Thursday night as they beat the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1.

Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury made 24 saves against his former team and defenseman Jon Merrill scored the game-winner at 8:17 of the third period for his first goal of the season. The Golden Knights improve to 20-9-2, reaching the 20-win plateau the fastest for an expansion team in NHL history.

The sellout crowd included a strong contingent of Penguins fans, who along with the Golden Knights backers gave Fleury a loud round of applause when he was introduced. Fleury played his previous 13 seasons with Pittsburgh before he was taken by Vegas in the expansion draft in June.

Murray also made 24 saves for the Penguins, who have lost three consecutive games.

Capitals 5, Bruins 3

Alex Chiasson scored two third-period goals — the second short-handed — to help Washington defeat Boston for the 11th straight time.

The Capitals’ Braden Holtby stopped 34 shots to raise his career record against the Bruins to 13-2-0. Rookie Jakub Vrana, Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin (empty net) also scored for Washington, which has won nine of its last 11 games.

Patrice Bergeron scored twice — including a power-play goal 4:22 into the second period to tie the game for Boston, which had its three-game winning streak snapped and lost for only the third time in its last 11 games.

Brad Marchand set up Bergeron’s first goal, notching his 400th NHL point and extending his points streak to seven straight games (four goals, seven assists).

Lightning 4, Coyotes 1

Nikita Kucherov scored for a third consecutive game and set up one of two goals in a 41-second span of the first period, and league-leading Tampa Bay won its season-high sixth straight game.

Kucherov took over the NHL scoring lead by one point (44-43) over teammate Steven Stamkos, who had an assist, and the Lightning improved to an NHL-best 23-6-2 while dropping Arizona to a league-worst 7-22-5. The Coyotes lost their fifth in a row and eighth in nine games.

Tyler Johnson and Brayden Point also had a goal and an assist each to support goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy, who excelled again by stopping 32 shots. Vasilevskiy has given up only eight goals while winning his last five starts, and is a league-best 21-4-1.

Predators 4, Oilers 0

Juuse Saros stopped 46 shots as Nashville improved to 15-2-2 in its last 19 games despite recording only 23 shots.

Pontus Aberg, Kevin Fiala, Kyle Turris and Roman Josi scored in the second period for the Predators. Aberg scored on their first shot of the second period and Nashville’s fifth of the game.

Laurent Brossoit made 19 saves in his sixth straight start for Edmonton. It has been a maddening four-game stretch for the Oilers, who scored 13 goals in defeating Montreal’s Carey Price and Columbus’ Sergei Bobrovsky, but were stymied by backups Saros and Toronto’s Curtis McElhinney, who beat them 1-0.

Flyers 2, Sabres 1

Valtteri Filppula scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period and Brian Elliott turned aside 19 shots to help Philadelphia win its fifth straight game.

Travis Sanheim also netted his first NHL goal for the Flyers, who have won five straight games in regulation after stumbling through an 0-5-5 stretch from Nov. 11 through Dec. 2.

Ryan O’Reilly scored for the Sabres, who saw their modest four-game points streak (2-0-2) come to an end. Robin Lehner made 25 saves for Buffalo (8-18-6), which has the NHL’s second-worst record behind Arizona.

The Sabres have scored one or fewer goals in 12 of their 32 games this season and rank last in the NHL with 68 goals (2.1 per game).

Blackhawks 5, Jets 1

Vinnie Hinostroza and Tommy Wingels scored on Chicago’s first two shots as the Blackhawks routed Winnipeg.

Patrick Kane, Nick Schmaltz and Michal Kempny also scored for the Blackhawks, who won their fourth straight game. Corey Crawford stopped 27 shots in the Chicago net.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored for the Jets, whose home winning streak was snapped at seven games. Connor Hellebuyck, who entered the game with the best home save percentage in the NHL, made 25 stops.