It’s an honor to cover the first-ever regular season game between the Los Angeles Kings and Vegas Golden Knights. Having just visited Las Vegas last week for the first time in several years, I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for the ever-expanding, never-sleeping city, where possibilities feel endless under the sun.
Against new teams, I’d be excited at the prospect of a sure win. But these fast-playing, 11-6-1 Nevadans are no ordinary expansion team. Rejected by their former teams, they, like many others, have resettled in the Silver State to reboot their lives and careers. The $500 million ante by general manager George McPhee is paying off, and his team has built a practice facility in Summerlin, a clean, newer neighborhood in the west of the city that resembles Orange County.
The Vegas roster does not stand out much more than that of any other NHL team, but this article explains it all—balanced offense, solid defense, and desire to prove themselves after the sting of the expansion draft are the reasons for their hot start. Oh yes, and lots of speed—can you keep up?
Last summer’s pool party water has been frozen for you to bring you tonight’s match! Are those waitresses? No, that’s the Golden Knights ice crew.
It never felt right for the Kings to start. Something seedy was in the cocktails at T-Mobile Arena to begin the game, and it was toxic to Los Angeles. Less than a minute in, William Karlsson zoomed down the left wing and scored on a wrist shot which went tweeners on Jonathan Quick. Quick saves such ordinary shots 99.9% of the time, but this time there was no luck for him (irony intended).
With 14:30 remaining the Knights threatened again with a precarious chance by Brendan Leipsic in front of an open net. Quick was forced down on his back (as you can see in the article photo) but the shot went wide.
Near the halfway point, Dustin Brown was held up and robbed by the Vegas gray mafia in the offensive zone, leading to Vegas speed skating as fast as the exotic car racetrack near Sloan. With 10:39 remaining, Cody Eakin scored his third goal of the season. And a few minutes later, a Quick turnover behind the net made it 3-0 Vegas. Miscommunication between Derek Forbort, Drew Doughty, and Quick—and contact with the goalie by Reilly Smith—caused the play. Karlsson scored again, and Quick walked straight to the dressing room in disgust. After a shutout by Darcy Kuemper yesterday, one wonders why the Kings did not continue to play the hot hand.
With 1:02 remaining, a shot by Trevor Lewis bounced off the body of Lagace, but a titillating rebound chance for Nick Shore was ****blocked by the big stick of the French Canadian goalie. Kinda like what bros do to chumps at the MGM clubs. And a bouncer move by LA reject Brayden McNabb on Doughty added insult to injury.
The quick feet of Vegas made it difficult for the Kings to sustain any offensive pressure, Corsi or not. Tanner Pearson and Adrian Kempe kept fourth-string goaltender Maxime Lagace honest with a few chances. But just like how a few bad blackjack plays can be costly, a few Quick gaffes have been the difference so far.
The Kings stirred up drama at the hotel room with a few scraps after the whistle, but a power play and a chance in front of the net by Nic Dowd did not pay off, as the slots were too tight.
And after being down, the Kings win a hand! Alex Iafallo intercepted the clearing attempt by the Knights, and passed the puck diagonally to Lewis, who showed some soft hands with a sexy backhander that made Lagace look, well, fourth-string. Hey, Lewis is on a two-game goal streak!
Los Angeles continued its pressure. A few individual street-show stick moves by Anze Kopitar were broken up by McNabb. And then a one-timer by Jussi Jokinen was stopped solid by Lagace. Then the puck fell behind Kuemper after the Nevadans prospected for gold in front of the net, but the puck never fully crossed the line, and the referee waved it off.
McNabb with another bouncer move on Brown! The first player to wear the Vegas jersey is angry now!
My notes end here. A few more Vegas scoring chances? I was busy checking out the Strip. I must admit, that fountain show set to classical music at the Bellagio makes me laugh. I know some think it’s touching. But I couldn’t stop laughing.
Trips to Las Vegas are always fun. It’s nice to go there and let loose, and the Golden Knights put on an entertaining show. But there’s always that tint of regret you feel after staying too long. The buffet you ate too much at, only to get food poisoned. Or doubling down on 11 when the dealer shows 6, and still losing. Or paying too much to dance with those girls at the...never mind. And now you’re hung over and have a long, boring drive back to—huh? Lewis tipped it and just missed? They came within one with Kempe passing to a curling Pearson? Alas, it wasn’t enough.
But though the Kings didn’t win the jackpot this time, they, like millions of others, will return to Vegas again. And again. There’s only one Las Vegas, and the possibilities of The Meadows remain as boundless as the Nevada desert itself.
Notes: Kuemper was a solid wall out there, playing a shutout 2 1/2 periods of relief. The Golden Knights are now one point behind the Kings for the Pacific Division lead.