LAS VEGAS (AP) — William Karlsson scored two goals against his former team, Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 29 shots and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-3 on Tuesday night.
Brad Hunt, Colin Miller, James Neal and Erik Haula also scored for Vegas, while Jonathan Marchessault added two assists.
With the win, the Pacific Division leaders stayed right behind NHL-best Tampa Bay, which defeated Nashville 4-3 in overtime. The Lightning have 69 points to top the overall standings and expansion Vegas is second with 68.
The Blue Jackets, playing for just the second time in 12 days, got goals from Markus Nutivaara, Josh Anderson and Matt Calvert. Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves.
Karlsson, selected from the Blue Jackets during the expansion draft last June, opened the scoring when he snagged a rebound and backhanded it past Bobrovsky.
Columbus tied it 1-all when Nick Foligno moved in on an odd-man rush and slipped a backward pass between his legs to Nutivaara, who sent a wrist shot past Fleury.
While the teams split the faceoffs in the first period, Columbus was the aggressor early, outshooting the Golden Knights 14-13 and controlling the tempo while peppering Fleury with several opportunities.
Moments after the Golden Knights squandered a 2-on-1 opportunity early in the second, the Blue Jackets capitalized on a 3-on-1 break when Anderson punched in his 15th goal of the season to give Columbus a 2-1 lead.
It didn’t take long for Vegas to respond, as Marchessault won a faceoff to Nate Schmidt, who found Miller cross-ice for a one-timer that beat Bobrovsky.
With nine seconds left on a power play, Hunt scored his first goal of the season to put the Golden Knights back in front.
Neal, who will represent Vegas in the All-Star Game along with Fleury, extended the lead when he and Haula eased their way in on a 2-on-1 break to beat Bobrovsky, who had a .932 save percentage and 2.15 goals-against average in his previous six games.
Karlsson tacked on his second goal of the night midway through the final period to push Vegas ahead by three. Karlsson has a career-high 42 points and is tied for second in the league with 27 goals.
Calvert’s goal came with a little more than seven minutes left but was too little, too late to provide the Blue Jackets any momentum.
Haula’s empty-netter provided the final margin.
NOTES: Vegas coach Gerard Gallant was an assistant with Columbus for four seasons, including the team’s expansion year in 2000. … Vegas improved to 21-1-0 when scoring the first goal of the game, best in the NHL. … Columbus came in with the worst power play in the league, converting at just a 13.3 percent clip, and finished 0 for 3 with the man advantage.
Blue Jackets: At the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.
Golden Knights: Host the New York Islanders on Thursday.