Three Stars of the Game
- Reilly Smith was a goalscoring machine during the regular season with 27 goals and 54 points, and that continued on Thursday. The forward was the standout star for the Golden Knights, and he will be a big factor throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As usual, Smith and William Karlsson formed a deadly one-two punch on the PK with Smith starting and then finishing a play, before the winger fired an impressive wrist shot past Darcy Kuemper at the end of the first period.
- Alex Tuch endured a miserable regular season after being hit by injury after injury in what is becoming a worrying trend. However, the talent is clearly there and, when healthy, Tuch has a high ceiling and the potential to be a lethal performer for the Golden Knights. He showed glimpses of that on Thursday, keeping his calm and poise to somehow beat Darcy Kuemper with a wicked shot from an impressive angle. If healthy, Alex Tuch could be the wildcard for the Knights in the postseason.
- Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t have too much work to do in the opening two periods, although he was made to earn his money in the final frame. Despite allowing a power play goal by Taylor Hall, Fleury came up big on a number of occasions to frustrate the Coyotes and it would have been a huge boost for both the coaching staff and the front office to see their undisputed starter look so sharp from the get-go.
The fun is over and now the real stuff starts. The Vegas Golden Knights will watch the first couple of days of the Qualifying Rounds this weekend, before getting down to business on Monday.
The first of three round-robin games, which will decide seeding for the actual Stanley Cup Playoffs, will pit the Golden Knights against the Dallas Stars and plenty will be at stake.
Puck drop is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. PT on Monday.