With all the craziness that took place before Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, it was easy to forget that the Vegas Golden Knights actually had a hockey game to play.
And it wasn’t just any other hockey game, either.
Vegas traveled to the City of Angels to take on a desperate Los Angeles Kings team for the first installment of a home-and-home series. And they’d have a new player joining them for the contest, too, as Ryan Reaves made his Golden Knights debut.
Reaves only received a little over seven minutes of ice time, but did end up making a positive impact in his own unique way.
About halfway through the first period, Kyle Clifford decked Oscar Lindberg with what looked to be a blindside hit. Lindberg immediately went to the dressing room and didn’t return to action.
Reaves, who’s compiled 84 penalty minutes this season, was none too pleased with the hit. And he let Clifford know it.
Reaves didn’t score any goals or create any big plays, but it’s certainly good to see him doing what he was brought in to do — protect his teammates.
You know who did score a goal, though? Erik Haula. And he did it just a few minutes into the contest, thanks to a nifty little pass from James Neal, who was playing in his first game since Feb. 17.
It’s rare that Jonathan Quick gets beat this easily, which is why it makes sense that the Golden Knights didn’t get on the board again until the third period. Luckily for Vegas, neither did Los Angeles.
Just 47 seconds into the final third, Reilly Smith scored a greasy goal to give Vegas the two-goal lead.
A little after the period’s halfway point, Reaves was assessed a hooking penalty, sending Los Angeles to the man advantage. William Karlsson nearly scored on a shorthanded breakaway, but Quick made a spectacular save to keep the Kings’ hopes alive.
As it turns out, this save would be the turning point for Los Angeles. Just seconds after Quick’s save, Jeff Carter scored his first goal of the season (!) after missing the majority of the year with a lower-body injury.
And Cody Eakin helped make it happen...
Now down a goal, momentum had quickly shifted in the Kings’ favor. Vegas did get one last good chance on Quick, though. And once again, he was up to the task.
From this point on, it was all Los Angeles.
With Quick on the bench, Los Angeles had Vegas outmanned 6-to-5 in the offensive zone. The Kings were relentless and finally managed to tie the game up with just 10 seconds remaining, thanks to a sick shot from Anze Kopitar.
The Golden Knights looked winded in 3-on-3 overtime. And it became especially evident when Colin Miller took a hooking penalty with two minutes remaining in the OT period. Vegas was helpless against the Kings’ power play, and it didn’t take long before Los Angeles scored the game-winner.
Adding insult to injury, Neal left the game midway through the second period after talking an awkward spill to the ice behind the net. Just after being activated from injured reserve, an apparent ailment may have gotten the best of Neal once again.
This is a tough loss for the Golden Knights. After a crazy few days of rumors and roster transactions, a win against their division rival would have been a great way to get back into the swing of normality.
Unfortunately, a string of mistakes — Reaves’ hooking penalty, Eakin’s headbutt own goal and Miller’s overtime penalty — ended up costing Vegas the game.
Luckily, the Golden Knights will get right back to work Tuesday night against this same Kings team. This time, though, they’ll be playing inside the T-Mobile Arena. And you know Vegas wants to turn the tables on Los Angeles.