It's official. Las Vegas is a hockey town now.
The Los Angeles Kings had their struggles last season. The Kings won't be scared of the bright lights and everything that comes with these games, something we can't say about Vegas. Two teams feeling each other out for what promises to be a long, physical series.
Obviously, the Golden Knight won. This was not a great offensive team this year and while they did get off 30 shots in the game, they just couldn't get one of them past Marc-Andre Fleury. That goal was scored by Shea Theodore (7th) and it came just 3:23 into the game. LA once again at that point was in the midst of losing 12 out of 17 games in a stretch that saw them fall out of contention for the Pacific Division crown.
The Golden Knights are now much healthier, though not completely there. They are now running with six alternate captains, a decision which was made back in October.
The Kings, who entered with a combined 928 games of playoff experience, outhit the Golden Knights, 68-59.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTSHow They Win: No team in the league is more relentless on the forecheck than the Golden Knights. "That we wouldn't have a team here, but we are showing what it's about". Fleury helped the Pittsburgh Penguins win three Stanley Cups.
They were doubted before they even hit the ice for training; predicted for eventual doom once Marc-Andre Fleury went down for two months due to a concussion; and questioned about the sustainability of their regular season success until that "y" appeared next to their name in the National Hockey League standings.
Starting from the net out, goaltending is a wash in this series. Fleury just discovered his old level, the one that made him a Stanley Cup victor in 2009 and one of the longest-tenured starters of his generation. Short of them only scoring the one goal this evening they looked comfortable, calm, cool and collected as though they are old pros at this.
Fleury has played 46 games this season.
As an expansion team, the Knights roster was built relatively quickly and then tweaked by way of various trades and pickups throughout the regular season. The Kings have the advantage in this area, as they are a bigger team than Vegas. I'm really happy to be part of this team, very proud of the way the guys have played all season and again tonight. They got off to an 11-2-2 start.
With all that said, the Golden Knights do not have a Drew Doughty.
"I think that's the loudest I've heard this building".
"It's unbelievable, it's a miracle", Vegas fan David Sanderson said. Kopitar had a goal and and assist, and four different Kings scored goals in this one at T-Mobile. Smith put up 22 goals and 60 points this season.
The Golden Knights were clearly running on adrenaline early, but that appeared to fizzle out pretty quickly.
The story of the first stanza was the physicality displayed by both teams.
Missed chances, they kill you. The Golden Knights have allowed just 2.70 gpg in their last 10 games and just 2.43 gpg here at home for the year. But at the time of year when games get tighter and clutch players make names for themselves, boasting a lineup stacked with battle-tested players who have lifted Lord Stanley multiple times can't hurt. This resulted in the club narrowly missing the 2017 playoffs. Carter is a better version of James Neal, and Toffoli is capable of being the most talented forward on the ice at any time.
The Vegas Golden Knights weren't supposed to be here.