That outcome did not come to fruition. Despite three unanswered goals by Seattle, the Golden Knights survived the Kraken’s rally to win their first game of the season 4-3.
The Kraken came out swinging in the first minute of the game. Jordan Eberle hit a cross bar and shortly after, the Kraken drew a penalty. All of this happened within the first 30 seconds of the game.
“It was kind of expected,” Mark Stone said. “If you look at their roster, they’re deep, they have some good players, [they’re fast]. They’re going to be a good team”
Fortunately for Vegas, the game seemed to settle down a little after that. Just three minutes and 10 seconds into the game, Max Pacioretty scored the Golden Knight’s first goal of the season off a pass from Mark Stone.
“You always want to get the first goal, especially in your own building,” Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer said. “You want to get the crowd into it. I think had they scored on that first shift it would have been deflating.”
Shortly after, Jonathan Marchessault added another goal to give the Golden Knights a 2-0 lead in in the first eight minutes of play.
Pacioretty got his second goal of the game just under seven minutes into the second period after he deflected a shot from Nicolas Hague past Phillip Grubauer.
Things turned quickly in the second half of the period, however. Ryan Donato scored the Kraken’s first ever goal shortly after a power play ended. Just over a minute later, Jared McCann scored to cut the Golden Knight’s three-goal lead to just one. The Kraken took over after that, heavily outshooting Vegas.
Seattle continued to press during the third period, and they finally found the equalizing goal. Morgan Geekie skated down the right wall and rifled a shot over the left shoulder of Robin Lehner. The Golden Knights, particularly their top line, took offense to Geekie’s celebration afterwards. On their next shift, Chandler Stephenson scored to restore the Golden Knights lead.
“The guy kind of did a stick twirl and stared our bench down,” Stone said. “He kind of got our line fired up and we went out there and got the game winner. Don’t get us fired up, I guess.”
The goal was reviewed, as it appeared Stephenson kicked the puck into the goal. It was close, and an argument seriously could have been made for Stephenson kicking the puck in. In the end the referees upheld the call on the ice, giving the VGK a 4-3 lead.
That lead held up and despite some quality chances late from the Kraken, the Golden Knights emerged with a 4-3 victory.
The Golden Knights relied heavily on their top line for production in Tuesday night’s game. Pacioretty finished with two goals and an assist, Stephenson finished with a goal and an assist, and Stone finished with three assists. For the top line, this had to feel good. They had received a ton of criticism from fans for their performance in the playoffs, and tonight they showcased why they are one of the best lines in hockey.
One other player that did not show up on the scoresheet but still played an excellent game was Alex Pietrangelo. Pietrangelo was arguably the best overall player on the ice for the Golden Knights tonight. His offensive puck moving skills were on full display tonight, he made good decisions with the puck in all three zones and was a rock defensively. He single-handedly held the Golden Knights together after the Kraken scored two quick goals and helped prevent them from tying the game in the second period.
“He was all over the ice,” Pacioretty said. “You look at him off the ice and you can tell he’s a guy that can play big minutes. As a winger, when a guy is breaking the puck out on his own you don’t have to be flat footed in your own zone.”
Despite the three goals allowed, Robin Lehner also had a solid game in net. Early on in the game, he made some key saves to prevent the Kraken from scoring. One in particular came on a short-handed chance from Brandon Tanev while the Golden Knights were on a power play. While his stats are not anything to write home about, he came up with big saves when he needed to.
The Golden Knights do not have long to rest. For their next game, they head out on the road to face the Los Angeles Kings. That game will be on Oct. 14 and puck drop will be at 7:30 P.M. The game will be broadcast on AT&T Sportsnet.