A tough task was in order Thursday and the Vegas Golden Knights were up to the challenge. The Los Angeles Kings are the NHL’s best road team and the Golden Knights were in a funk. None of that mattered Thursday night in an all-important four-point game.
The early parts of the first period were a feeling-out process for both teams. The Golden Knights were able to generate a bit of time and space, but the Kings kept the Golden Knights’ chances to the low-danger variety.
Jack Eichel got the scoring started for the Golden Knights. Ivan Barbashev found Eichel on the left circle and he was able to beat Cam Talbot over the left shoulder. That goal was exactly what the Golden Knights and fans needed to get positive energy flowing through T-Mobile Arena.
It was as close to a perfect period as the Golden Knights could have asked for given how the previous four games have gone.
Michael Amadio wasted no time getting things started in the second period. Amadio streaked down the left side of the ice and Pavel Dorofeyev found him alone in front of Talbot. The teams started trading chances from about eight to six and a half minutes remaining in the second period. That is not the type of game the Golden Knights wanted this to turn to.
Anze Kopitar got the Kings on the board with just over seven minutes remaining in the second period. William Karlsson and the Golden Knights responded just under two minutes later.
Both teams got away from their games but the Golden Knights were able to extend their lead to two goals.
Would the Golden Knights be able to string together three periods of solid hockey against the NHL’s best road team?
The Kings had a clear plan to start the third period. Shoot early and often, The Kings registered three shots in the first 30 seconds of the period and had a fair amount of high-danger chances as the period progressed.
It appeared the Kings scored with about nine minutes remaining, but the goal was disallowed due to goaltender interference.
The Kings made things interesting with a Trevor Moore goal with the Kings net empty with just under two minutes remaining in the third period. Golden Knights fans held their breath as time ticked down. The Kings had a few shots from in tight and Logan Thompson was able to keep the puck out of the net to preserve a much-needed 3-2 victory for the Golden Knights.
This was the start Thompson needed. “It’s been a long month, especially for the goalies,” Thompson said after the victory. “This was the toughest month of my career. Just taking a step back and being grateful I’m in the NHL. I don’t know how long I’ll be in the NHL or how long I’ll be a Golden Knight. I just come to the rink with a smile on my face.” Thompson when asked about dealing with the pressure of being an NHL goalie.
Coach Cassidy was in a much better mood after Thursday’s victory. “I thought we deserved to win. I felt we were the better team and had to get it to the finish line.” Cassidy on the final minutes of the game.
Up next is the Winter Classic where the Golden Knights will take on the Seattle Kraken on New Year’s Day at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
Gawlik’s Three Stars
First Star: Logan Thompson, 32 saves on 34 shots faced
Second Star: Jack Eichel, one goal
Third Star: Michael Amadio, special goal with his newborn child in attendance
Eichel from Barbashev and Stone, 7:38
Amadio from Dorofeyev and McNabb, 2:27
Kopitar from Kempe and Gavrikov 13:07
Karlsson from Cotter and Pietrangelo 14:47
Moore from Kopitar and Grunstrom 18:01