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Golden Knights 4, Kings 2: Pacioretty scores twice as Lehner returns

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Vegas is now 3-0-0 against Los Angeles this season.

Vegas Golden Knights v Los Angeles Kings
Max Pacioretty of the Vegas Golden Knights celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal
Photo by Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fifth-straight win with a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Friday. It’s their third win against the Kings this season.

William Karlsson was placed in COVID-19 protocol before the game but was cleared as a false positive in time for warmups. He scored a goal — which turned out to be the eventual game-winner — and skated 17:34 across all strengths, third among Vegas forwards.

Chandler Stephenson and Alex Tuch both returned from short absences. Stephenson played 17:15 and Tuch played 16:10. Stephenson had three shots and one high-danger opportunity while Tuch had three shots and three high-danger opportunities.

Robin Lehner got his first start since Feb. 7. He made 23 saves on 25 shots, facing 2.66 expected goals against. Lehner made five stops on seven high-danger shots. He played his second-best game of the season in terms of save percentage and picked up his fourth win.

The Golden Knights got things started with a goal less than a minute after their first power-play opportunity ended:

That’s a five-game point streak for Max Pacioretty and 10-game streak for Mark Stone. Pacioretty would get the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead a few minutes later, although it required a review from Toronto to determine that the puck crossed the goal line even though Quick appeared to have made the glove save:

Pacioretty’s second goal, assisted by Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez, extended Theodore’s point streak to a career-high six games.

Just before the end of the period, however, Alex Iafallo cut into Vegas’ lead, scoring off a rebound with assists from Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty. Kopitar has the most points against the Golden Knights in franchise history, as he now has 17 points against Vegas.

The Kings got the first goal in the second period as well. Trevor Moore scored on a bouncing puck to tie the game.

Jonathan Marchessault shot a puck meant to be deflected with less than five minutes in the second period. Karlsson was there to accomplish that mission, as his deflection found the back of the net:

That was Karlsson’s 200th point with the Golden Knights.

In the third, Will Carrier scored his first goal of the season on his own deflection to strengthen Vegas’ lead:

Nicolas Hague took the shot from the blue line for his second primary assist of the season (eighth overall).

The Kings made a late push in the third period, but Vegas kept them to the perimeter and closed out the 4-2 win.

The Golden Knights’ power play was given four minutes of time but had just two shots and 0.21 expected goals in those four minutes. Neither opportunity resulted in a goal. The Kings were given two minutes and had three shots and 0.33 expected goals.

All four of Vegas’ lines drove possession in this game. Each finished with a shot share of 50 percent or better and just one — Pacioretty, Stephenson and Stone — finished with fewer expected goals than they gave up (.82 to .86) at 5-on-5.

That likely results from the Golden Knights’ possession driving throughout the game. While the Kings started out the first period better — finishing with 12 shots to Vegas’ 11 at 5-on-5 — the Golden Knights kept the Kings to just five shots at 5-on-5 in both the second and third periods.

The Golden Knights’ second period of hockey was one of their best in recent games, and they finished with 1.6 expected goals at 5-on-5 (1.81 across all strengths) while giving up just 0.24. They kept the Kings to just eight shot attempts and one high-danger chance in that period.

That partly came because of the pairing of Zach Whitecloud and Hague. The duo gave up just two shots against and two high-danger chances in 13:34 together at 5-on-5. They came into the game as Vegas’ top shutdown duo and they gave up zero goals on Friday.

The Golden Knights play the Kings again Sunday afternoon.