The Vegas Golden Knights returned to action Tuesday night with hopes of exacting revenge on the Los Angeles Kings, who had beat them in overtime less than 24 hours before puck drop. This game, though, the Kings traveled to the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, which has quickly become one of the craziest, rowdiest buildings in hockey.
And in front of Vegas’ rabid crowd, the Golden Knights had a new player making his debut in the steel grey and gold — Tomas Tatar, who Vegas acquired just before Monday’s 3 p.m. ET trade deadline, was in the building Tuesday night and gave the Knights’ third line a massive boost. Amazingly, Tatar led every Golden Knights player with a 89.47 Corsi For percentage. And while he didn’t record a point, he certainly showcased what made Vegas so keen on bringing him in.
Unfortunately, Tatar’s great debut wasn’t enough to lift Vegas past the Kings, even with Jack Campbell, not Jonathan Quick, in net.
However, the Knights did manage to open the scoring just 5:27 into the game when William Karlsson (who else?) potted a greasy goal to give Vegas the early lead. This is No. 34 on the year for Karlsson, which adds up to 16 more goals than his career total from before the season began.
It only took the Kings a few minutes to respond to Karlsson’s tally, though. Nearing the first third’s halfway point, Ryan Carpenter, who’s been fantastic as of late, turned over the puck in the defensive zone, giving Kyle Clifford a golden scoring opportunity. There was nothing Maxime Lagace, who was making his first NHL start since Dec. 9, could do to keep this puck out of the net.
Despite ending the first period tied at one apiece, Vegas did not play particularly well after 20 minutes. They were careless in their own end and, frankly, were lucky they didn’t finish the opening period down a goal.
The turnover trend continued in the middle period, and it bit Vegas hard. After sustaining heavy pressure in the Los Angeles zone, the Golden Knights turned the puck over yet again, and Tyler Toffoli took full advantage of it.
That wouldn’t be the Kings’ only goal in the middle third, though. With just 29 seconds remaining in the period, Anze Kopitar scored one of the more impressive goals of the season as he raced past Luca Sbisa and Deryk Engelland and beat Lagace to give Los Angeles the two-goal lead.
Things wouldn’t get much better for Vegas in the final period. And it all started with a huge hit by Ryan Reaves, who absolutely crushed Derek Forbort behind the Kings’ net. The hit got the crowd pumped, but it also sent Reaves to the penalty box for boarding. It’s a questionable call, but that’s to be expected with a guy like Reaves.
Vegas killed off the Kings’ power play, but Reaves would head right back to the box a few minutes later for roughing. The officials also tacked on a bench minor, as the Golden Knights’ coaches clearly didn’t agree with the penalty.
From there, the writing was on the wall. Los Angeles’ power play has been hot as of late and they converted on the 5-on-3 to take the three-goal lead with less than two minutes remaining, basically securing the win.
What a frustrating night for Vegas. Only 24 hours after blowing a third period lead in Los Angeles, the Kings came into the T-Mobile Arena and beat the Golden Knights yet again.
Much will be made of the officiating in this game, which, truthfully, was questionable at times. But at the end of the day, the Golden Knights’ sloppy play and careless late-game antics are why they were defeated two nights in a row by their biggest rival.
Vegas will be off the next two days as they prepare to take on the lowly Ottawa Senators at home Friday night. And after this pair of discouraging losses, Vegas will surely be foaming from the mouth to get back in the winning column.