After an offseason that brought multitudes of change, the Golden Knights finally kicked off the 2021-2022 regular season against the Seattle Kraken. This, as we all know, was the first game in franchise history for the league’s newest club, but it was Vegas that came away with a 4-3 win.
Leading up to the game, there was uncertainty in both lineups, as the Kraken were rumored to be missing multiple players due to the league’s COVID-19 protocols, but all were iced after all.
The Knights were without Mattias Janmark due to COVID-19, so it only took one game for Vegas to revert to using 11 forwards and seven defensemen.
Dylan Coghlan skated as a forward on the fourth line and Pavel Dorofeyev, Vegas’ 2019 third-round pick, made his NHL debut in the season opener. It was the Golden Knights debut for Evgenii Dadonov and Nolan Patrick; the two skated with Peyton Krebs.
Less than 30 seconds into the contest, Seattle’s Jordan Eberle rang the pipe, and the Kraken got a very early power play opportunity as Alex Pietrangelo was whistled for tripping. The Golden Knights killed the penalty but not without a breakaway opportunity from William Karlsson.
Max Pacioretty got the Knights on the board moments after the kill. His first of the season came on a wrist shot from Philipp Grubauer’s right that went over the glove of last year’s Vezina Trophy finalist.
Despite the Kraken controlling the game in the early stages, the Golden Knights got on the board again. Jonathan Marchessault tallied the goal after Karlsson created a turnover in the offensive zone.
The Golden Knights got their first power play opportunity of the season after Reilly Smith was tripped by Jamie Oleksiak. In his first game as the team’s undisputed No. 1 starter, Robin Lehner stoned Brandon Tanev with a poke-check save during the power play, which did not convert.
The Kraken outshot the Knights in the first period 9-6 but headed to the locker room trailing by two goals.
The Golden Knights got an early opportunity on the power play in the second period after Jaden Schwartz was called for holding, but the Kraken killed the penalty once again.
Vegas got another crack at the man-advantage after the Seattle bench was called for too many men, but the Knights were unable to capitalize.
The Knights got on the board shortly thereafter, however. It appeared as though Nicolas Hague tallied his first goal of the season, though it was later credited to Pacioretty for his second of the night. Hague took the shot after drifting into the slot, getting it through traffic and past Grubauer.
The Kraken went to the power play after Zach Whitecloud was whistled for a hold behind the Knights’ net. The Knights killed the penalty, but the Kraken would get on the board seconds later.
Ryan Donato found a rebound in the crease and is now an answer to a trivia question as he scored the first goal in Kraken franchise history.
The Kraken quickly cut the deficit again, as Jared McCann was credited with a goal that slowly trickled over the goal line.
Marchessault rang the post shortly after the Seattle goal to keep it a one-goal game.
A much livelier second period ended with the Golden Knights leading in shots (24-23) and on the scoreboard (3-2).
The third period was well-defended in the early stages but quickly turned.
The Kraken tied the game at 3-3 with a wrist shot from Morgan Geekie that beat Lehner by the near post.
The Golden Knights quickly struck back as Chandler Stephenson deflected a pass from Stone with his skate into the net. The goal was reviewed for a kick but was not overturned. The primary assist was the second of the game for the captain.
Alec Martinez rang the post from the point, the third post for the Golden Knights in the game.
The Kraken pulled Grubauer with 1:20 remaining in the third, and the Knights escaped with the help of a kick save from Lehner and Stone beating out an icing in the dying seconds.
The Knights opened the season with a victory for the fourth time in five seasons. It wasn’t a perfect game, especially considering Vegas blew a three-goal lead. The power play went 0-for-3, though Dadonov and Patrick looked promising.
The top line didn’t miss a beat, as Stone, Pacioretty and Stephenson combined for eight points in the winning effort. The Misfits Line had a very strong game as well.
Vegas took advantage of its chances but needs a more complete effort moving forward.
Next up for Vegas is a Thursday matchup in Los Angeles.