Golden Knights spoiled Kraken, handing them loss in their first-ever NHL game

Golden knights
Oct 12, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) celebrates with defenseman Zach Whitecloud (2) and right wing Mark Stone (61) after assisting on a goal by left wing Max Pacioretty (not pictured) against the Seattle Kraken during the second period at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights spoiled the Seattle Kraken’s NHL debut on Tuesday night in a marquee matchup between the two youngest NHL franchises. Powered by two goals from sniper Max Pacioretty, the Golden Knights took an early lead that they would never give up en route to a 4-3 victory.

At one point the Golden Knights held a three-goal lead before they allowed the Kraken to fight their way back into the contest. Morgan Geekie found the back of the net with an impressive shot in the third period and tied the game with just over twelve minutes remaining before the Golden Knights’ top-line responded with a goal of their own.

golden knights
Oct 12, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer (31) makes a save against Vegas Golden Knights center Nolan Patrick (41) during the third period at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

It was a strong start to the season for a Golden Knights team that is widely projected to win the Pacific Division this season. Earning two points, while denying the Kraken any, in these matchups between division rivals is what will get them that division crown.

It was the first time that the Golden Knights had played at T-Mobile Arena since their disappointing playoff loss to the Montreal Canadiens in last year’s playoffs. With one of the best atmospheres in the league, the Golden Knights fed off the energy of the raucous crowd and used it to kickstart their momentum.

The game-winning goal came in the third period when a puck was redirected off of Chandler Stephenson’s skate behind Kraken goalie Phillip Grubauer. The play was reviewed to check for a kicking motion but the final verdict was that there was no intention by Stephenson.

Golden Knights captain came to play

Mark Stone was named first star of the game despite the fact that he didn’t score. It was a classic performance from Stone who doesn’t need his name on the scoresheet to make a large impact on the result of a game. He finished the contest with three assists and continued to show why he was a great selection as the first captain in Golden Knights’ history.

Stone is the key cog that makes this team run and performances like last night will be crucial if the Golden Knights want to make a deep playoff run. Without a true number one franchise center, the Golden Knights roster is crafted slightly differently than what a traditional contender would look like. The fact that Stone is so responsible defensively and can check the best players in the league is what allows them to get away with that absence.

Lehner takes crease for Golden Knights

With the departure of Marc-Andre Fleury this offseason, there’s plenty of eyes on the Golden Knights’ goaltending. Robin Lehner is the starter after being the backup last season and he has a difficult role to fill as Fleury was not only a fan-favorite but also last year’s Vezina Trophy winner.

golden knights
Oct 12, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb (3) celebrates with goaltender Robin Lehner (90) after defeating the Seattle Kraken at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

While it wasn’t a perfect start to the season for Lehner, he did make a few big saves when needed and did enough to ensure that the Golden Knights won the game. There’s plenty of time left for Lehner to improve and the context of opening night at home after Fleury’s departure is a big stage. His performance will also be better judged when we get a stronger idea of how good the Kraken are.