Ilya Kovalchuk opened the scoring at 12:14 of the first period, showing great patience as he scored his first goal in more than a month.
GOAL. Ilya Kovalchuk outwaits Marc-Andre Fleury and beats him to give Los Angeles the 1-0 lead. pic.twitter.com/1CrhJrDyTk— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 7, 2019
Jeff Carter followed suit less than three minutes later, giving the Kings a 2-0 lead 15 minutes into the game. It was the second time Fleury was hung out to dry, and Carter took full advantage of being left all alone in the crease.
GOAL. Jeff Carter makes it 2-0. pic.twitter.com/UPPdtxZgkg— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 7, 2019
Defenseman Matt Roy gave the Kings a commanding 3-0 lead nearly 11 minutes into the middle frame, and it looked as though it might be a blowout.
But Vegas didn’t get the memo.
Just 16 seconds later, Brandon Pirri scored his 12th of the season to get Vegas on the board. Cody Eakin set a new career high in points (41) with the primary assist on the play.
GOAL. Brandon Pirri finally gets Vegas on the board. pic.twitter.com/e4vFgxv3X0— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 7, 2019
Valentin Zykov brought the Knights within one just two minutes and 18 seconds later when he netted his second goal of the season.
GOAL. Jimmy Schuldt sets up Zykov for the goal. pic.twitter.com/eXGk6CuEux— x-Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) April 7, 2019
Significantly, Jimmy Schuldt, making his NHL debut, earned an assist on the play, picking up his first career point in his first career game.
However, Anze Kopitar put the Kings up by two once again with a power-play strike nearly nine minutes into the third period.
Gerard Gallant challenged the play for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice stood. Remarkably, it was Kopitar’s first power-play goal of the season.
Kovalchuk sealed the deal with an empty-net goal, his second goal of the game, with under a minute left in regulation, putting the game away at 5-2.
It wasn’t a significant game for the Knights, who were already locked in as the third seed in the Pacific Division, though it was important for Fleury to get another game in before the playoffs. He made 27 saves on 31 shots.
Schuldt, whom Vegas signed as a free agent out of college earlier this week, made the most of his 21:03 of ice time, recording an assist, one shot and one block. He showed impressive poise and is definitely a promising prospect for the future.
Another positive takeaway was the fact that Pirri and Zykov found twine, especially since they may be called upon in the postseason. Also, no one got injured, which was perhaps the biggest win of the night.
Despite the loss, the Knights put forth a better effort than they did against Arizona the other night. After a tough first period, the Knights bounced back (as you can see in the Corsi chart below), ultimately finishing the game with a Corsi For percentage of 57.73 and a High-Danger CF% of 58.82.
The Knights will finish the regular season with a 43-32-7 record and 93 points.
It’s easy to forget that the Knights have only completed two regular-season campaigns in the NHL given all the success this franchise has had, but the real work starts next week when Vegas takes on San Jose in round one of the playoffs.