Chandler Stephenson scored two goals, including the game-winner, in a see-saw matchup.
It was far from the Golden Knights’ best showing, but the two points bump Vegas into first place in the division with a 7-1-1 record and several games in hand.
For the second game in a row, the Knights scored three goals in the first period.
However, it was not at all like Friday’s opening frame.
This time, it was Los Angeles that opened the scoring early as Anze Kopitar beat Robin Lehner on the Kings’ first shot of the game just 36 seconds in.
The Knights fought back, however, which would be a theme throughout the game.
Reilly Smith evened things up with his third of the season, but the Kings struck again when Adrian Kempe made it a 2-1 game just 1:09 later.
It was the Kings’ second goal on two shots, making it another rough start for Robin Lehner, who got his fifth start of the season.
As the back-and-forth battle continued, the Knights needed just 26 seconds to even things up once again. Cody Glass sent a no-look, cross-ice pass to Zach Whitecloud, who scored his first regular-season goal.
Vegas then took its first lead of the game when Stephenson made it 3-2 just over four minutes later.
Stephenson was the beneficiary of a behind-the-back, between-the-legs pass from Mark Stone in the neutral zone, and his speed took care of the rest. Stephenson blew past the Kings defenders and beat netminder Cal Petersen cleanly.
Stone with the pass, Stephenson with the speed and the finish.— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) February 7, 2021
Point No. 399 for Stone on Stephenson's second goal of the season. Pacioretty with the secondary assist.#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/DOKy9rZCY6
The wide-open pace of the first that featured a combined five goals did not carry over into the second, however, especially for the Knights.
Los Angeles was effective in slowing down Vegas’ speed and limiting passing lanes, which resulted in the Kings being the only team to find twine in the middle frame.
Lehner had settled down a bit after giving up two goals on two shots early, but he wasn’t able to hold off Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who was left alone in the slot and scored his first career NHL goal on a one-timer.
The game was knotted up at 3-3 through 40 minutes, but the Knights would start the third with a power play, which helped them take their second lead of the game.
Stephenson drove to the net (in typical speedy fashion), and his centering feed to Alex Tuch ended up trickling past Petersen.
It marked the first time this season that Vegas scored on the power play in three straight games, and it was Stephenson’s second career two-goal game and first as a Golden Knight.
As Stephenson admitted after the game, it was a lucky bounce, but it proved to be the difference in this game as the Knights held on to the 4-3 lead for the win.
The Knights controlled 5-on-5 play in the first and third periods and finished the game with a 46-39 edge in Corsi, 23-19 advantage in scoring chances and a 9-7 lead in high-danger Corsi.
It was a sloppy game on both sides, but Vegas took advantage of its team speed once again, and it was particularly effective this afternoon. Two of Vegas’ three goals at 5-on-5 were scored in transition.
The bottom six was much better after a very rough turnout in Friday’s matchup.
William Carried led the team in individual expected goals (0.38), individual Corsi (6) and individual high-danger Corsi (3) at 5-on-5 in a team-low 8:31 of action, and he and linemates Ryan Reaves and Tomas Nosek led the team in Corsi For percentage at 5-on-5.
The third and fourth lines finished the game with Corsi percentages of 81.81 and 75, respectively.
Ironically, the top line had the worst numbers after a tough second period in which they failed to record a shot attempt and gave up eight to Los Angeles. However, Vegas got goals from three out of four lines; Alex Tuch collected two assists.
Lehner picked up his third win of the season and fought back after putting Vegas in a 2-0 hole early.
The 29-year-old finished the game with 29 stops and a .906 save percentage, topping .900 for the first time in his last three games. He took a shot up high in the second period but finished the game and stopped all 10 of the Kings’ shots in the the third.
Pete DeBoer relied heavily on the top four defensemen down the stretch, and he switched up the pairs. Alec Martinez led the team in ice time (25:19), while Shea Theodore played a team-high 18:07 at 5-on-5. Dylan Coghlan looked more comfortable in his second game, and he came very close to scoring his first career goal, but DeBoer leaned on the rest of the blue line in a tight game. That being said, Coghlan is 2-0-0 in his young NHL career, and the Golden Knights are now 3-0-0 in their gold third jerseys.
Next up for Vegas is a two-game series against Anaheim starting Tuesday night.