Golden Knights win season opener in dramatic finish

Oct 11, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Cotter (43) plays the puck defended by Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault (24) in the third period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 11, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Cotter (43) plays the puck defended by Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault (24) in the third period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

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The Vegas Golden Knights opened the Bruce Cassidy era and the 2022-23 season with a dramatic 4-3 win on the road against the Los Angeles Kings. The game itself had plenty of momentum changes and big time plays that left a big impression on the national viewing audience.  Mark Stone would get the game-winner with just 26 seconds left in regulation allowing the Golden Knights to claim their fourth straight opening night victory.

First Period Breakdown

Despite being outshot by the Golden Knights early on, the Kings practically carried the momentum on the ice and on the scoreboard. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick did a masterful job shutting down shots from the Golden Knights early on and he would be a very busy man throughout the game. In the first half of the opening period, the shots and hits were all in favor of Vegas. The first Kings shot on goal did not come until there was 9:27 left in the opening period. Gabriel Vilardi would get the rebound off of Thompson’s initial save of Quinton Byfield to to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.

The Vilardi goal gave the Kings some extra momentum and they were beginning to fire off shot after shot but Thompson was nothing short of spectacular at the net. The momentum remained with the Kings until around the four and a half minute mark. Jack Eichel fired off a series of shots on Quick, then it was Jonathan Marchessault’s turn to make some noise. Afterwards you had contributions from Brett Howden and Paul Cotter. The Golden Knights offense was alive. The period would end with the Knights on the power play for about 30 seconds. In those 30 seconds, the amount of activity around the net was Reilly Smith’s welcome party to the 2022-23 season.

Score after one period of play: Kings 1, Golden Knights 0

Overall impressions of the first period of play:
– Mark Stone, Jack Eichel and Logan Thompson all looked great.
– Rookie Paul Cotter made himself known out there. He will be an aggressive hockey player.
– LA Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is the laser focused netminder the entire league remembers.
– Fourth line for Vegas was spectacular

First Period Grades
Offense: A- | Defense: B- | Special Teams: A | Goaltending: B+

Paul Cotter made some good impressions on opening night
Oct 11, 2022; Los Angeles, California, USA; Vegas Golden Knights center Paul Cotter (43) plays the puck defended by Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault (24) in the third period at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports /

Second Period Breakdown

The Golden Knights started the second period with a minute and a half of power play time. Giving credit where credit is due, the Kings were very aggressive on the penalty kill. As time expired on the power play, the Golden Knights had the puck in the offensive zone and just ten seconds after the teams were back to five on five, a wrist shot from Marchessault makes it past Quick to even the score at one a piece. For a majority of the first eight minutes, you would see both teams playing rather aggressively and the momentum would swing a great deal between Los Angeles and Vegas.

About the 11:30 mark, the Kings began to take control defensively. Four straight Vegas shots were blocked by the Kings. The good news for Vegas was that the offense remained to have a significant impact on the ice. The bad news was the Kings defensively were ready for it. Eichel drew a slashing penalty in his favor with 7:30 left in the period, but the Kings penalty kill was on top of its game. The Kings would control the puck over the course of the next three minutes but could not muster any shots past Thompson. The vast majority of the remainder of the second period was spent in the Kings offensive zone.

Score after two periods of play: Golden Knights 1, Kings 1

Overall impressions of the second period of play:
– The Vegas offense was present and aggressive, Marchessault goal was a gift
– The Kings are a better hockey team than most will give credit for.
– Howden and Cotter will be players to watch over the first few weeks of the season
– Jonathan Freaking Marchessault.

Second Period Grades
Offense: A | Defense: A- | Special Teams: B- | Goaltending: A

Third Period Breakdown

The third period started with the Golden Knights on the power play for the first minute and a half which did not have much activity. Just outside of that time frame, Jack Eichel would fire off a couple of shots with the second one making it past the confines of Quick for a goal, giving the Golden Knights their first lead of the season. A Mark Stone shot went wide with the Kings scrambling into their zone. Anze Kopitar made some crazy moves before giving the puck to Adrian Kempe for a game tying goal with 15:58 remaining in regulation. Eichel would win the ensuing faceoff with the Golden Knights regaining some of the momentum of the game.

Alex Pietrangelo would draw a slashing penalty on Phillip Danault. The Golden Knights would take advantage of their time on the power play with William Karlsson scoring a goal on a tip in. Karlsson’s goal would give Vegas the lead back in their favor. The Kings would get the momentum back with a Drew Doughty rocket narrowly missing the net followed by Quinton Byfield misfiring on his shot. The Kings offense began to make its prescience known. After a Phil Kessel slashing penalty, the Kings would have a rather uneventful power play. Then Artur Kaliyev would get a game-tying goal to make it 3-3 with seven minutes remaining just one second after the power play. The Kings would press and pick up the the momentum but with just 26 seconds remaining, off an assist by Pietrangelo and Chandler Stephenson, Mark Stone would find the net for the game winning goal off the left side of the goalpost.

Final Score: Golden Knights 4, Kings 3

Overall impressions of the third period of play:
– Mark Stone looked great.
– Golden Knights fourth line was on point all night.
– Despite the three goals given up, Thompson was a machine in goal.
– Power play still needs some work but was aggressive.

Third Period Grades
Offense: A | Defense: B+ | Special Teams: B- | Goaltending: B+

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Three Takes on Opening Night

1- It is only the first game of the season
While we see a lot of positives from the first game, it is important to remember, the season is a marathon. There will be some up and downs throughout the season. The good news is, the game makes an impact against a division rival. The bad news is, the Golden Knights still have a lot of work to do to fix up some aspects of the game. While that is not necessarily a bad thing, the thing to remember, we are only one game into the Bruce Cassidy era.

2 – Fourth line came in with something to prove
For the most part, when you think of the fourth line, it is often seen as an afterthought in the impact of the game itself. That being said, the Golden Knights fourth line certainly did not take in that logic. The impact of the fourth line was all over the game. Rookie Paul Cotter, Keegan Kolesar and Nicolas Roy all found a way to make it work. If they come into every game with this sort of impact, the Golden Knights might have something really special.

3 – Logan Thompson stood his ground
Despite giving up three goals, Thompson looked absolutely superb in the net. It was not perfect but the more we see him in net, the more confidence he will gain. Cassidy’s coaching style may turn out to benefit Thompson in the long run. The second goal of the game he gave up was a matter of experience, which he will gain. For someone with limited time, the opening game of the season against a division rival on national television was a great measuring stick towards what his potential could be.