LAS VEGAS (AP) — Mark Stone scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, Robin Lehner made 20 saves and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2 Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
The Golden Knights improved to 9-2-2 against Anaheim since they entered the league in 2017.
Jonathan Marchessault, Tomas Nosek, Max Pacioretty and Alex Tuch also scored for Vegas.
After newest Golden Knight Alex Pietrangelo fired a shot wide, Chandler Stephenson gathered the rebound and dished to Stone, and Vegas’ captain finished with a one-timer to put Vegas ahead 3-2 moments into the third period.
Stone followed his goal with a stunning assist, stealing the puck in the neutral zone, fighting off a defender, and diving to poke the puck to Pacioretty, who sniped Gibson through the five-hole for a 4-2 lead.
“We didn’t like how the second period felt,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “We wanted to come out in the third and take the game over. (Stone) led the way. That’s why he’s wearing the ‘C.’ He has the ability to raise his level at important times, and that’s what you want your captain to do in those moments in the game.”
Maxime Comtois scored Anaheim’s goals, both in the first 7:58 of the game, marking the fastest two goals by an NHL player to start a season in more than 15 years. The last NHL player to score two goals in the first eight minutes of a season was Jeremy Roenick of the Los Angeles Kings, who scored two goals in the first 4:18 on Oct. 5, 2005 in Dallas.
John Gibson made 24 saves for the Ducks.
With fans kept away due to the coronavirus pandemic, Vegas recreated as many in-game antics as it could to recreate the hyped-up atmosphere the Golden Knights are used to.
Maybe it worked. Vegas scored 1:07 into the game, when Alec Martinez found Marchessault, who took the puck at the center of the blue line, skated in, and beat Gibson over his glove to the top corner.
A little more than one minute later, Ryan Reaves intercepted Hampus Lindholm’s pass behind the net and backhanded a pass between his legs to Nosek, who one-timed it past Gibson to give Vegas an early 2-0 lead.
The Ducks countered when Comtois punched home a pass from Sam Steel with a one-timer as he sprawled into the crease, and scored his second of the game later in the period when captain Ryan Getzlaf kept the puck alive with a strong forecheck behind the net. Getzlaf fed Comtois, who scored from the side of the goal to tie it.
“We haven’t played in nine months,” Comtois said. “We just have to go back to the video room, see what went good (and) see what went wrong. We know we can play with those guys; we saw it in the first and the second, and we just have to stick to that and make sure we give it for 60 minutes.”
THREE AND OUT
Anaheim had won three straight season openers.
Tuch, who has been with the organization since its inception, finally enjoyed an opening night with the Golden Knights and celebrated with an empty netter with 14 seconds left. After starting out in the AHL in 2017, Tuch was injured for the start of the previous two seasons.
THE NEW C
Stone skated with the captain’s C on his jersey for the Golden Knights. It’s the first time in the four-year old franchise’s history a captain was named. Reilly Smith and Alex Pietrangelo are the team’s assistant captains.
Getzlaf’s assist moved him into a seventh-place tie with Nicklas Backstrom among NHL leaders in points with 927 since 2006-07. The 16-year veteran also ranks fifth in assists (667) in that same span.
THE 13TH MAN
Keegan Kolesar was the additional forward kept on the Golden Knights’ roster, as DeBoer decided to go with 13 forwards, five defensemen and two goaltenders. Kolesar, who had played one previous game in his career, played just 4 minutes, 36 seconds and was on the ice for both of Anaheim’s goals.
The Ducks and Golden Knights complete a two-game series Saturday at T-Mobile Arena as part of an abridged 56-game schedule. The teams square off seven more times this season as part of a wild West Division that also includes the Arizona Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota Wild, San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues.
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