The Los Angeles Kings did their best to hang with the Vegas Golden Knights on Super Bowl Sunday, but Chandler Stephenson had other plans.
The Kings scored on their first two shots on goal, they put Vegas behind by one twice in the first period, they created opportunities by keeping the puck alive in the offensive zone.
In the end, though, Vegas simply had too many weapons for a second straight game against its West Division rival, and pulled off the 4-3 win in the matinee game.
With the game tied 3-3 after two periods, it was going to take something early to turn the game, and on this day it would be speedy Chandler Stephenson breaking free and notching his second goal of the game – the eventual winning goal.
“That’s one of our big assets as a team,” Stephenson said. “We’ve got good size and a lot of speed. It helps back off teams and let us have control of the puck more.”
Less than two minutes into the third period, and enjoying a man advantage, the Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez brought the puck from behind the goal then dropped it back from the blue line to Alex Tuch, who was approaching with Stephenson.
Tuch wasted no time in dishing to Stephenson, who proceeded to skate through four defenders, splitting the final two with incredible speed Los Angeles defenseman Kale Clague couldn’t contend with as they approached the goal line.
Seeing Tuch on his right, Stephenson looked to send a pass to the crease, but the puck slid into Kings goaltender Cal Petersen’s pad and through the five-hole and into the net.
Stephenson’s second goal of the game provided the momentum boost Vegas would need to outskate and outhustle the Kings the rest of the way.
“I think our team speed is one of our biggest strengths,” Reilly Smith said. “Really puts teams on their heels. When our D are able to keep tight gaps and turn pucks over quickly, those guys can make teams pay.”