Before Sunday's game, Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer told the media after morning skate that the Kings were, "A team they needed to give proper respect to because they can beat anyone." His team failed to heed this warning.
Slow starts have plagued the Golden Knights all season, and the first period in this game was no exception. Just two minutes into the game, Kings captain Anze Kopitar made it 1-0 after he was left all alone in front of the net. Kopitar would score again on the power play for the Kings later in the period to make it 2-0 Los Angeles. The Golden Knights were never able to get any sustained pressure that period, generating only 8 shots on goal. Their best chance of the period came off the stick of William Karlsson, who was denied in front of the net by Kings goalie Cal Peterson. Both teams skated 4 on 4 for the final two minutes of the period after both Drew Doughty and Nate Schmidt took penalties.
In the second period, Vegas came out much stronger. The Golden Knights got their first bit of sustained pressure about 5 minutes into the period, but nothing came of it. Just over halfway through the period, Trevor Lewis of the Kings snapped a turn around shot past Marc-Andre Fleury low glove side to give the Kings a commanding 3-0 lead. At 13:14 Vegas would finally get on the board with a power play goal from Shea Theodore. Vegas would begin to generate more pressure after that but took a late goaltender interference penalty put them a man down. Alex Iafallo then made it 4-1 Kings, tapping in a shot from the point that trickled by Fleury. Peterson was under siege the entire period but managed to stop 17 of the 18 shots he faced.
At the start of the third period, DeBoer mixed his forward lines up. He moved Chandler Stephenson down to play with William Carrier and Nick Cousins and moved Nicholas Roy up to play with Karlsson and Max Pacioretty. The pressure came early from Vegas and did not stop, as they would land 19 shots on net in the period. The best chance of the period for the Knights once again came of the stick of Karlsson, who was stoned at the top of the goal crease by Peterson. DeBoer pulled Fleury around the 16 minute mark, but Vegas was unable to land any shots on net with the goaltender out.The Kings were only able to land 1 shot on net in the period, when Drew Doughty shot the puck on goal the length of the ice during a penalty kill. While the Golden Knights out-shot the Kings in the third period by a substantial margin, they were unable to generate multiple high-danger chances. The Kings kept the Knights out of the middle of the ice in the offensive zone for most of the period and did not allow many second chance opportunities. The final shots for the game were 43-17. Peterson saved 42 of the 43 shots he faced, while Fleury allowed 4 goals on 17 shots.
After Sunday’s game, the Golden Knights still sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 80 points (36-23-8), and a 4-point cushion on the Edmonton Oilers. Vegas will look to rebound on Tuesday, March 3 when they play the New Jersey Devils in the last game of this homestand, before heading out on a 5-game road trip. The Golden Knights will be without forward Mark Stone for most of the remaining schedule, who suffered a lower body injury against the Buffalo Sabres. The Golden Knights play 10 of their final 15 games on the road, with a 4-game road trip in Canada to finish the season.