The biggest moments of Thursday night’s Golden Knights loss to the Los Angeles Kings were the NHL debuts of VGK forwards Jake Leschyshyn and Jonas Rondbjerg. Both were selections in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in the second and third rounds, respectively.
Along with Peyton Krebs, Leschyshyn and Rondbjerg are making a statement for their draft class who collectively seem to be coming into their own on the NHL stage. With the Golden Knights having such organizational depth over their first few seasons, it is nice to see these long-awaited rookies take to the ice as Vegas Golden Knights. Now is the time to see if the extra developmental years paid off for each of them.
Unfortunately for the team as a whole, the preseason play has continued to haunt this team.
A rollercoaster first period
The Vegas Golden Knights opened their second game of the season with a strong push that resulted in an early goal from Shea Theodore. Combining with his former Seattle Thunderbirds teammate, Keegan Kolesar, Theodore found the net behind Kings goaltender Cal Petersen.
However, for the Golden Knights, the rest of the first period would not go so smooth. A quick response from the Kings had Dustin Brown finding the back of the net, tying the game 1-1. The Kings, with a fresh wave of younger players, seemed to find their rhythm as time ticked on. But not to be outdone, it was another LA veteran who scored the second goal of the night for the home team. Kings captain Anze Kopitar capitalized on a powerplay opportunity after a penalty to Leschyshyn.
Kings stay hot in the second period
It may be a good thing that the Golden Knights are off for the next five days. Just over three minutes into the middle frame, Phillip Danault got his first goal in a Kings jersey, putting his new team up 3-1.
Just over four minutes later, Golden Knights captain Mark Stone looked uncomfortable as he took a shot on Petersen and needed some assistance as he left down the tunnel. Should he be out for a while, this would be a huge loss for the Golden Knights moving forward.
With just under 10 minutes left in the period, Anze Kopitar found his way onto the scoresheet once again, scoring his second of the night. Fortunately for Vegas, that would be all of the damage done in the middle frame. The period would end with Vegas down 4-1.
Laurent Brossoit led the Golden Knights onto the ice for the third period, taking over for Lehner for the final 20 minutes.
However, once again, just under three minutes into the period, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty took a shot from the blue line that flew past Brossoit for a powerplay goal to put the Kings up 5-1. The goal came while Martinez was in the box and stood as Doughty’s fourth point of the night. The four points matched him with Kopitar at that point.
Apparently, that was unacceptable to the Kings captain. With just under five minutes left in the game, Kopitar completed the hat trick for a five-point night.
On a side note, the feeling in the arena for Kings fans had to be electric with a hat trick in the first game of their season, and with a full crowd to boot. The flip side to that, however, just means more frustration on the part of the Golden Knights. The rivalry from the inaugural season may have cooled but most certainly lives on.
Chandler Stephenson took one back as yet another puck redirected off of his shin and in on a Dadonov shot. The score improved to 6-2, but with just over four minutes left to salvage this game, Vegas had a mountain of work to do if they were to take this one back on the road – a mountain that they were unable to summit, as the final horn blew and the score was still 6-2 in favor of the Kings.
The Golden Knights powerplay woes continue
Though they had just one opportunity on the man advantage on Thursday night. They failed to capitalize on the opportunity and there were no quality scoring chances on their one powerplay. While the defense was rough throughout the game, the powerplay has struggled dating back to last season. Hopefully something clicks soon.
Keegan Kolesar continues to improve
Every time Kolesar takes to the ice as a Golden Knight, he looks just a little better than he had the game prior. This may just be his breakout season in the NHL at his point.
Chandler Stephenson’s no-shot scoring
With two goals to start the season, Stephenson has yet to find the back of the net with the puck coming off of his stick. Both goals of his have been redirected off of his body. Not that he is likely upset by this. A goal is a goal however it is scored. It’s going to be a bit of a running joke, at least for the next few days. The first one, though controversial, led to a win over the Seattle Kraken.
A new goaltending tandem, a new goaltending situation
Robin Lehner has absolutely proven he is an exceptionally capable goaltender. The problem is that if the Golden Knights continue playing this way in front of him, it’s going to be a long season. We got a short view of regular-season Brossoit tonight, and as he went in late in the game, who knows how he will perform as the starter.
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