This was supposed to be a night where all eyes were going to be on Nolan Patrick to see where exactly does he fit in with the Vegas Golden Knights. Instead, Daniil Miromanov got everyone’s attention, particularly the Los Angeles Kings’.
The 24-year-old rookie defenseman from Russia scored two gorgeous goals and that was more than enough for Laurent Brossoit to keep the Kings at bay in delivering a 38-save, 4-0 shutout win Friday at T-Mobile Arena.
It’s hard to say whether Miromanov, who has three goals in the last two games, has done enough to make the opening night roster for the Golden Knights. But he certainly has made enough of a positive impression that he should avoid being a participant in the Henderson Silver Knights’ AHL training camp, which begins Monday.
“He has a knack, doesn’t he?” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said of Miromanov. “He’s been great to watch. His play is going to warrant him getting a chance to play again.”
Miromanov said that even though the level of competition is higher, playing with more skilled players is actually easier.
“You’re playing with so many good players,” he said. “You just have to do the right things and the puck will find you.”
His first-period goal, set up by Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson, was a thing of beauty, as Miromanov calmly backhanded the puck over Cal Petersen’s shoulder and into the net to give the Knights a 1-0 lead. If nothing else, Miromanov is doing what DeBoer wants from his defensemen — activate into the attack and join the rush.
His second goal was even prettier as he took a pass from Reilly Smith, faked going backhand, drew Petersen down and skated around the Kings goaltender and deposited the puck into a yawning cage.
“He has a pretty good shot,” Marchessault said of Miromanov, who said he was moved from forward to defense when he was 16 by none other than all-time Russian great Igor Larianov. “It’s good to see him making the most of his chance.”
Miromanov came over from the Kontinental Hockey League last year after scoring 10 goals and having 19 assists in 58 games with Sochi. He played 11 games with the Silver Knights, garnering a pair of assists during five playoff games.
Now, he’s trying to find a way to break through and crack what was assumed to be a set lineup on the Golden Knights’ blue line.
“It’s just a matter of getting comfortable playing with these guys,” Miromanov said. “It’s awesome.”
Patrick is also trying to find a comfort level with his new team. The former Philadelphia Flyers center who was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft and was sent by the Flyers to Nashville then on to Vegas for Cody Glass this summer, found himself playing alongside veterans Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov Friday as DeBoer wanted to experiment and move some guys around. And with Nic Roy injured, Mark Stone not dressing Friday and Peyton Krebs getting the night off, it was a great opportunity for Patrick to make a positive impression.
But the experiment didn’t last long. Late in the second period, DeBoer moved Patrick to the third line with Mattias Janmark and William Carrier while returning Chandler Stephenson to skate with Pacioretty.
“I liked big parts of Nolan’s game,” DeBoer said in assessing Patrick’s play Friday. “He did some things well and when we moved him with Janmark and Carrier, that line moved well.
“It’s that time of the year where you want to look at different combinations but he’s going to be an important part of what we do. He had an impact our power play. When he was out there, good things happened.”
Brossoit was definitely more comfortable Friday than in his debut Tuesday where he gave up three goals but still got the victory over Colorado. He made a huge stop in the first minute on a breakaway by the Kings’ Viktor Arvidsson and that seemed to set the tone for his night in net.
“Yeah, definitely,” Brossoit said of his comfort level increasing. “I thought the guys did a good job in front of me and allowed me to see the puck and help clear the rebounds.”
The Knights (2-2), get the weekend off, then return to the ice for the final preseason push lading to their Oct. 12 season opener against the expansion Seattle Kraken at T-Mobile Arena. They’re at Colorado Tuesday, host Arizona Thursday, then travel to San Jose next Saturday to wrap up the exhibition slate. There are still some decisions to be made and when you get performances like the one Miromanov turned in Friday, it makes it a little tougher on management.