LAS VEGAS (AP) — Lias Andersson repeatedly told Los Angeles Kings coach Todd McLellan he was ready to return to action since coming back from the minors.
Playing in his first NHL game since Feb. 16, the 22-year-old fourth-line center proved it Wednesday night.
Andersson scored a goal and Cal Petersen stopped 40 shots as the Kings defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2.
“I thought Lias did a really good job,” McLellan said. “We asked him to go to the minors just to get his game polished up and get some game action. He did that … and when his number was called, he was ready.”
The Kings snapped their three-game skid and a three-game losing streak in Las Vegas.
Andreas Athanasiou, Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Alex Iafallo also scored for the Kings, while Petersen improved to 4-1-0 against Vegas. Peterson has both of Los Angeles’ wins over Vegas this season.
Vegas had its six-game home winning streak snapped, and dropped just its third home game in regulation this season.
“It’s tough to win here,” McLellan added. “One of the toughest arenas in National Hockey League. It gives us two points a lot of teams aren’t going to get out of this building. Every night is important. It’s important for the evolution of our organization, but it’s important point wise for us to put ourselves in a position to play later than the regular schedule.”
William Karlsson and Shea Theodore scored for Vegas. Marc-Andre Fleury made 26 saves.
Los Angeles looked sharp early by staying disciplined in the first period, avoided giving Vegas an opportunity by staying out of the penalty box, and was nimble in pushing the puck through the neutral zone efficiently to keep the pressure on Fleury and control the tempo.
Athanasiou opened the scoring when he snuck behind Vegas’ Zach Whitecloud and William Carrier to gather a loose puck, skated into the zone and beat Fleury with a backhand over his glove.
The Kings extended their lead to two goals when Andersson punched home Tobias Bjornfot shot from the point that trickled through Fleury’s pads.
“Fun to be back and get a goal, it was a good feeling and good win on the road,” Andersson said. “Every game is huge at this point. We treat every game as a playoff game now.”
It marked the second time in the past three games the Golden Knights allowed two goals in the first period, after coming into the contest with a 30-18 advantage in the opening frame.
Vegas cut the lead in half when Jonathan Marchessault’s shot caromed off Los Angeles defenseman Matt Roy’s skate and the puck trickled to the goal line, where Karlsson snuck a snap shot from the side of the net.
The Kings got their two-goal lead back when Athanasiou won the race to a loose puck and fired a shot Fleury lost track of, giving Anderson-Dolan time to jam in.
Seconds after killing a penalty, Iafallo got behind Vegas’ defense as Fleury skated toward the puck to attempt a poke check. Recognizing one of Fleury’s patented moves, Iafallo deked to his left and fired the puck into a wide-open net to give Los Angeles a 4-1 lead.
Theodore whipped a wrist shot from the point as Karlsson’s perfect placement in front of the net screened Petersen as the puck got through to cut Los Angeles’ lead in half early in the third period, but Vegas couldn’t get anything going from that point.
“It was one of those nights,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “You have to give them credit. They played with desperation that we didn’t match. They’re fighting for a playoff spot and don’t want to get swept in this two-game series. I thought we had a real poor start. I think it’s still a winnable game. Couple of fluky goals.”
Fourth-line wing Ryan Reaves was a late scratch for the Golden Knights, due to a lower-body injury. … Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returned after missing 12 games with an upper-body injury. … Fleury (483) remains one win shy of Ed Belfour on the all-time wins list.
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW
Vegas center Chandler Stephenson, who had just six penalty minutes coming into the game, could find himself in further trouble with NHL’s Department of Player Safety for a high elbow on Bjornfot that appeared deliberate. Stephenson receive a five-minute major and was ejected from the game.
“It looked like the right call,” DeBoer said. “I wasn’t going to argue their decision. Where that goes from here, that’s out of my hands.”
Los Angeles: Hosts San Jose on Friday.
Vegas: Hosts Minnesota on Thursday.
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