The preseason was fun and all, but tonight’s the night we’ve all been really waiting for. For the first time in franchise history, the Vegas Golden Knights played an actual, meaningful regular season hockey game.
And holy hell, the Golden Knights won. James Neal scored both of Vegas’ goals in the third period to give the Knights a 2-1 win.
And Marc-Andre Fleury was a beast. More on that later.
For their season opener and inaugural regular season game, the Golden Knights travelled to Texas to take on the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center. Though the Golden Knights were very much outmatched on paper, they still managed to put together an encouraging performance and walk out of Dallas with a win! Let’s check out how the game unfolded.
The first period was a back-and-forth struggle. A sluggish start led the Knights to trail the Stars 11-3 in shots on goal at one point, but thanks to a quick momentum shift after a series of Dallas penalties, the Knights were able to close the gap in the shots department. Unfortunately, though, Vegas couldn’t get the puck past Ben Bishop despite having four power play opportunities, leaving the game scoreless after the contest’s first twenty minutes.
The second period, however, was all Dallas. The Stars put a whopping 20 shots on goal during the middle third and ended up taking a 1-0 lead after an incredible deflection goal from Tyler Seguin.
Had it not been for Marc-Andre Fleury, the Knights likely would have been trailing by a lot more than just one goal. Fleury looked absolutely spectacular and managed to make some incredible saves, including this doozy on a Dallas breakaway.
Brendan Leipsic, despite a few rookie mistakes (like whiffing on golden scoring opportunities) made a lot of plays in high-danger areas. He nearly tied the game towards the end of the second period, but Bishop managed to stop the puck just before it trickled over the line.
Leipsic thought he'd scored a goal.— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 7, 2017
Narrator: "He had not." pic.twitter.com/gbKyt1NW2E
To start the third, the Stars would be faced with a bit of a bizarre circumstance. Bishop had taken a hard wrister to the mask, which somehow cut him open and required repairs. Bishop was sent to the locker room and Kari Lehtonen would fill in for him in net.
Bishop is getting checked out. Lehtonen is replacing him in net. pic.twitter.com/X71aEexldd— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) October 7, 2017
As it would turn out, the goalie switch would end up hurting the Stars. Toward the midpoint of the period, the Golden Knights scored their first goal in franchise history as Neal got a puck through traffic and past Lehtonen.
And guess what happened a few minutes later? Neal scored another one to give the Knights a 2-1 lead. Real deal, indeed.
The Stars pulled their goalie to add an extra attacker in an attempt to knot the game back up, but it was all for naught. The Golden Knights, in their first game in franchise history, got the win.
After everything that’s happened in Vegas over the last week, this win must feel extra sweet for the Golden Knights. James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury carried the team past one of the league’s most exciting clubs. Neal, despite missing all of the preseason while recovering from a broken hand, immediately reminded fans why he’s regarded as one of the league’s top goal scorers and Fleury, just a year after being overtaken by a rookie netminder in Pittsburgh, managed to stop 45 of 46 shots.
This isn’t just a win for the Golden Knights. This is a win for Las Vegas. What an amazing night.