Kings at Golden Knights Preview: Vegas looks to sweep two-game series in afternoon rematch
These teams will meet again four times in March and twice in April.
The Vegas Golden Knights picked up a convincing 5-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings Friday night in the team’s first game in over a week.
You would not have known the Knights hadn’t played in a while, though.
Vegas showed no signs of rust, jumping out to an early lead just 50 seconds into the contest and holding a three-goal lead through 20 minutes and a five-goal lead through 40.
It was a tough game for Jonathan Quick, who was pulled after surrendering four goals on 10 shots. His replacement, Vegas foe Cal Petersen, stopped 25 of 26 shots in nearly two periods of action.
Pete DeBoer was back behind the bench after a lengthy quarantine, though Alex Pietrangelo remained out of the lineup. His status for today’s game remains unclear, though it’s difficult to criticize the results Vegas achieved in his absence.
The Knights moved to 6-1-1 on the year with Friday’s win and sit two points out of first place in the division with three games in hand over Colorado and four over St. Louis. With a four-game set against the Avs coming up, today’s game cannot be taken lightly.
The Knights will need another consistent effort as they take on the rival Kings once again.
Four things to watch for
- Despite getting outshot in the first period and finishing on the wrong side of the Corsi battle in the first two (36-28 at 5-on-5), Vegas made the most of its opportunities early, scoring four goals on the first 10 shots of the game, three of which came in the first 10:40 of the opening frame. The Knights were due for some puck luck after hitting the post seven times against St. Louis back on Jan. 26, and they definitely got it the other night. But the first period has been a struggle for Vegas all year. Friday’s game was just the second time this season Vegas outscored its opponent in the opening stanza. Another strong start could be crucial against a Kings team sure to be looking to bounce back.
- The “goalie controversy” is growing less and less controversial and more and more nonexistent with every game. Marc-Andre Fleury has been Vegas’ best goalie, and it hasn’t been close. He improved his record to 4-0-0 Friday night, and he held a shutout streak that lasted 120 minutes and nine seconds, which is more than two entire hockey games. If Vegas continues to employ a straight goalie rotation, Robin Lehner will be in net for today’s game. If that’s the case, he will look to rebound from a rough performance against St. Louis in which he gave up three goals in the first period and finished the night with an .840 save percentage. On the year, Lehner is 2-1-1 with a 2.95 goals-against average and .855 save percentage. Assuming the Kings roll Petersen, this could be a tighter game, so whether it’s Lehner or Fleury, the Knights will need sharp goaltending no matter what.
- Five different players scored goals for the Knights in Friday’s game; all scoring came from the top two lines, but two of the four 5-on-5 goals came courtesy of the second line. Notably, DeBoer started the game with that line on the ice, and the trio of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith responded. It was the line’s best game in a while, and Karlsson and Marchessault combined for two goals and five points. They finished the game with Corsi For percentages of 66.67 and 64, respectively, and Smith was right behind them at 59.09. As a line, they finished the game with a 61.11 percent Corsi share and 76.47 percent expected goal share in 11:10 of ice time at 5-on-5. Getting that type of secondary scoring, which has not been a consistent element of Vegas’ game so far this season, could be significant.
- But either way, the fourth line needs to be better. Vegas thrives as a team that rolls four lines, but all four lines need to contribute in order for that to be successful. The line was on the ice for the only goal against at 5-on-5, and the line of William Carrier, Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves put up awful numbers across the board. At 5-on-5, Los Angeles bested them 12-0 in Corsi, 7-0 in shots, 1-0 in goals, 6-0 in scoring chances and 2-0 in high-danger Corsi. That gave Vegas’ fourth line zero percent shares across the board, and it was the first time this season that the trio came up empty in the Corsi department. The third line wasn’t a whole lot better, but they didn’t give up a goal and at least got something going. It didn’t alter the course of the game, but one would expect that unit to come out with a lot more energy in today’s tilt./
How to watch
Time: 12 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, ESPN+
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM