Golden Knights 5, Kings 2: Early dominance pays off in Vegas’ return

Vegas scored three in the first and added two more in the second period.

The Vegas Golden Knights scored five goals in the first two periods en route to defeating the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 Friday night at T-Mobile Arena. Five different goal-scorers found the scoresheet as the Knights played their first game since Jan. 26 following a long break due to COVID-19 protocols.

Vegas saw multiple-point performances from Mark Stone, William Karlsson, Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault and Nicolas Hague. Cody Glass scored a power-play goal, and Shea Theodore added an assist.

Marc-Andre Fleury improved his record to 4-0-0 with another strong game.

Vegas looked great in its first period of action in more than a week. While the Knights were outshot 10-9 in the frame, the Knights kicked things off with a goal just 50 seconds into the game when Hague scored his first of the season:

The former 30-goal OHL scorer is back at it. It was just the second goal of his NHL career, and he added a secondary assist on Marchessault’s goal later in the period.

The Golden Knights would get the next goal as well, as Stone scored before the halfway mark of the period:

It was Stone’s second point of the night, and Pacioretty grabbed his second as well. That line, including Chandler Stephenson, finished the game with an 82.35 percent shot share and 93.09 percent expected goal share at 5-on-5 in 10:40.

Vegas would make it 3-0 to end the period as Marchessault scored his second goal of the season:

Cashing in on rebounds always helps, and Marchessault was there to take advantage.

The Golden Knights added two more goals in the second period. They almost had a third, but it was called back due to goaltender interference.

The middle frame started with a goal on the Knights’ second shot of the period as Karlsson scored his first of the game and second point of the night:

Like the first line, Vegas’ second impressed in this one. They had a 60 percent shot share and 76.47 expected goal share on a lower offensive zone faceoff percentage.

Karlsson’s goal led to Jonathan Quick getting pulled; he made just six saves on 10 shots in 21:04. Calvin Peterson replaced him in the Kings’ crease and made 25 saves on 26 shots in 38:55.

Karlsson would get his third point later on in the period as he and Pacioretty assisted on Glass’ second goal of the season, scored on the power play:

The power play continues to look better. Besides the goal, the power play took 11 shots in 6:03 including five high-danger chances and 1.5 expected goals.

The only goals in the third period came from the Kings. Austin Wagner scored 7:47 into the third period, snapping Fleury’s shutout streak and making it a 5-1 game. Dustin Brown connected on a Kings power play later in the period.

The Golden Knights’ defense — missing Alex Pietrangelo and Brayden McNabb for the first time this season — performed relatively well, even when including the third period. They allowed just six high-danger chances across all strengths and just 1.83 expected goals against.

The young defensive pairing of Hague and Zach Whitecloud stepped up, playing the most 5-on-5 minutes and taking on heavy defensive responsibility; Hague finished with zero offensive zone starts, and Whitecloud saw a 14.29 percent offensive-zone start rate.

Fleury made 27 saves on 29 shots, including three stops on five high-danger shots. It was his fourth game above a .900 save percentage this season as well, as he finished with a .931.

Vegas plays Los Angeles again on Sunday before the Super Bowl. Saying “expect the same lineup” may be an understatement.