The Vegas Golden Knights got right back in the win column with a commanding 6-3 victory against the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday night at the newly-named Crypto.com Arena.
The win gives the Knights sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division. Vegas is now the top team in the Western Conference with 42 points in a league-high 33 games.
Tonight was the first game following the extended holiday break, but Vegas wasted no time bouncing back from last week’s 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay despite being without Mark Stone, Alex Pietrangelo, Evgenii Dadonov, Robin Lehner and others.
Though there was some rust at the start of the first period, the Knights and Kings exploded for four goals in quick succession later in the frame.
The Knights opened the scoring when Reilly Smith snapped a 10-game goalless drought, beating Jonathan Quick with a tap-in deflection just under 10 minutes into the game.
A QUICK GOAL BY SMITH pic.twitter.com/vvfuWwz0qg— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 29, 2021
The Knights doubled their lead just 26 seconds later on a deflection goal scored off a point shot by Ben Hutton. It was later credited to Keegan Kolesar, his first in 15 games.
WHAT A BEAUT pic.twitter.com/avT4ypM1tg— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 29, 2021
But Los Angeles responded immediately.
In fact, it took Adrian Kempe just 13 seconds to put the puck behind Laurent Brossoit, cutting the Kings’ deficit in half.
Send @AdrianKempe to the #NHLAllStar Game! → https://t.co/OayXKlk0z1— LA Kings (@LAKings) December 29, 2021
He does stuff like this. pic.twitter.com/uMDS653oib
Kempe took a stretch pass off the boards and was in alone on the Vegas netminder.
However, Jonathan Marchessault reestablished the two-goal lead with his 15th of the season 37 seconds later.
POST BIRTHDAY VIBES FOR MARCHY pic.twitter.com/n8qS9Kks5k— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 29, 2021
Marchessault’s goal was the fourth goal scored in the span of just 1:16.
Vegas added two more early in the middle frame, ending Quick’s night less than three minutes into the second period.
Chandler Stephenson netted his 10th of the season on Vegas’ second power-play goal of the game.
flooding your feed your goal highlights pic.twitter.com/1uLJCT9ah6— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 29, 2021
Mattias Janmark struck 86 seconds later with a deflection goal in front, making him the third Golden Knight to end a goalless drought of at least 10 games.
it's a lovely knight in LA pic.twitter.com/vIdOLmrXFq— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 29, 2021
The back-and-forth action continued as Los Angeles capped it at three unanswered goals for the Knights before getting back on the board.
The Kings capitalized on a Vegas turnover, as Trevor Moore scored shorthanded to make it 5-2. Once again, a Kings forward got behind the Knights’ defense and beat Brossoit one-on-one.
.@TrevMoore08 making things happen on the penalty kill. #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/vx2dkmAjNB— LA Kings (@LAKings) December 29, 2021
But the offense didn’t dry up.
In fact, on the first shot of the third period, Marchessault notched his second of the game and 16th of the year, beating Garret Sparks five-hole.
☀️ GOLDEN STATE OF MIND ☀️ pic.twitter.com/FJuojI3Rom— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 29, 2021
At 6-2, the Golden Knights were in complete control and just needed to close out the third period.
They were able to do so.
Though Alex Iafallo brought the Kings back within three with a slick wrister with 14:10 left in regulation, the Knights closed the door down the stretch and came away with the convincing 6-3 win.
It was one of Vegas’ best offensive efforts of the season and marked the team’s 21st win of the year. It was the 12th time the Knights have scored five-plus goals this season.
It also was another strong performance by the Vegas special teams; the power play went 2-for-4, and the penalty kill was perfect, killing off all four of Los Angeles’ opportunities.
The Golden Knights’ power play has been the best in the NHL in the month of December; the two goals in tonight’s game give Vegas a total of 12 in the last four weeks.
Brossoit gave up three goals on 27 shots for an .889 save percentage, though that doesn’t account for the fact that the Kings were in alone on two of their three goals. Brossoit had a critical effort on the penalty kill at the end of the second period when the Kings had an opportunity to pull within two.
He got more than enough goal support, however, which has been a theme of late. In fact, the Knights have scored at least three regulation goals in 11 out of 12 games this month.
That December success will come to an end one way or another when the Knights finish up the 2021 portion of the season Friday afternoon against Anaheim.