Keselowski was moved out of the way by Elliott after a restart, and Hamlin spun Elliott out of the lead with two laps remaining in regulation. Elliott wrecked, chased Hamlin down on the cool-down lap to show his displeasure, and the drivers had a heated exchange after they climbed from their cars.
Hamlin at first defended his actions because of the stakes but later apologized to Elliott in a statement he tweeted.
“I’ve raced nearly 10,000 races since I was 7,” Hamlin said. “Today was the first time I’ve ever spun the leader. I regret the outcome because it was not intentional the way it turned out, but I’m responsible for my own car and take blame.
Less than two minutes after that—goal. Deryk Engelland, who had addressed the crowd before the game and spoken about Vegas being his home, where he had met his wife and where his kids were born. Less than two minutes after that—goal. James Neal, who had already tallied three of the first four goals in franchise history. Four and a half minutes after that—goal. Neal again.
Four goals in just over 10 minutes. The crowd erupted each time, as this team—their team—put a dramatic stamp on its arrival in town.
There were plenty of times it just felt like a normal night at a sporting event. They played “YMCA” and people did the arm motions. They had a dance cam. The fans hilariously booed the ref as he announced a cross-checking penalty against the home team with 1:03 remaining in a game that was long over.
From Correa: “These games are hard on me. I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack out there every single time.”
And this from Houston reliever Joe Musgrove: “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, ‘This is the craziest game of my life.’ Well, tonight was the craziest game of my life.”