Published Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 | 2 a.m.
Updated Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 | 10:12 p.m.
The Golden Knights' season started off with a win at home over their biggest rival. Their highest-paid player had two points, one of their stalwarts had two goals and their prized rookie scored his first.
It was a strong opening night for Vegas, as it defeated the San Jose Sharks 4-1 at T-Mobile Arena to begin their third campaign a a franchise 1-0.
Reilly Smith and William Karlsson all night made it feel like Vegas was on the power play when it ws short-handed. In the third period, they got rewarded. The Golden Knights forced a turnover in their defensive zone and Smith and Karlsson out-raced the Sharks to a 2-on-0 going the other way. Martin Jones never had a chance, and Smith scored his second of the night at 4:01.
Smith scored his first of the night in the first period, also from Karlsson, and also after a turnover. That followed a Mark Stone goal, and Cody Glass scored the first goal of his career in the second period. Stone also had an assist on the night.
The Sharks got on the board at 12:14 of the first thanks to a Marcus Sorensen snipe over Marc-Andre Fleury. Sorensen almost had his second of the night in the dying minutes of the second, but it was waved off after being played by a high stick and did not get overturned on replay.
The bad news for the Golden Knights was the health of defenseman Nate Schmidt, who left in the first period and did not return. Schmidt needed help getting off the ice after colliding with San Jose's Logan Couture, and was favoring his left knee.
Cody Glass scores first career goal
The Golden Knights' first-ever draft pick had his first-ever goal on his first-ever shot in his first-ever game, helping the Golden Knights to a 3-1 lead entering the third period.
Mark Stone chased a puck from the offensive zone to the blue line, flung it back in to Max Pacioretty, who saw Cody Glass to the right of the San Jose net. Pacioretty put the puck right to Glass' stick, and Glass went far-side to score his first NHL goal at 2:12 of the second.
Glass was the sixth-overall pick in 2019 and is the first Vegas draft pick to play for the Golden Knights.
The Golden Knights had a power-play opportunity in the second and had a few good looks but no goals. William Karlsson, who assisted on Reilly Smith's goal in the first period, has run into some bad puck luck. He has been in great position for a goal multiple times, but has not been able to beat Martin Jones.
Things started to get the trademark Vegas-San Jose spice later in the second period. First it was William Carrier getting tangled up in the boards which included the referee getting taken down in the scuffle. Then Brayden McNabb took a two-minute timeout for roughing after landing a punch on Timo Meier.
Nate Schmidt did not return for the second period and was ruled out for the game.
Golden Knights lead after one
It didn't take long for the Golden Knights to get on the board. All it took was a power play and 3:46 of game time.
Moments after hitting the crossbar, Mark Stone roofed the puck over Martin Jones and into the net to give the Golden Knights a 1-0 lead. The Golden Knights ended the first period of the season with a 2-1 lead.
Reilly Smith didn't want to get left out of the fun. He positioned himself in front of Jones and waited as William Karlsson forced a turnover behind the net. Karlsson gave it to Smith, who popped into the net for a 2-0 lead at 5:21.
Everything was breaking Vegas' way early. Even the Sharks' first power play was negated by a Kevin Labanc hooking call, giving the Golden Knights a truncated power play of their own.
It didn't last for Vegas, and it may have lost something worse than giving up a goal. Midway through the period defenseman Nate Schmidt and San Jose's Logan Couture got tied up and Schmidt left the ice with a trainer favoring his left knee. Schmidt did not return to the ice.
The Schmidt play was not called for a penalty, but there were plenty of whistles to go around. It wasn't because of roughing or fighting like past Vegas-San Jose games, but through the first half of the first period, the penalty minutes matched the game minutes with five minor penalties in 10 minutes.
The Sharks got on the board later in the third on a pretty snipe by Marcus Sorensen. He had a wide-open lane to the net after Couture dished him the puck at the blue line with no defenders in front of him. The goal came at 12:14.
The Sharks are without star defenseman Erik Karlsson, was was a late scratch to tend to a personal matter.
Everyone knows who is coming to town tonight.
Since the schedule was released, Vegas has been buzzing, knowing it was going to get a playoff rematch. And not just any playoff rematch: a chance for the Golden Knights to get back at the team that eliminated them in the most unbelievable way.
The Golden Knights host the San Jose Sharks at 7:30 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena to open the 2019-20 season, a game nearly six months in the making.
“Eighty-two games, you try and have every one of them circled, but the truth of the matter is that some have a little bit more shine to them than others,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “This is definitely one of them.”
The Golden Knights took a 3-1 series lead over the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs last season, only to lose Game 5, drop Game 6 at home in double overtime and lose a 3-0 lead in Game 7. The Golden Knights took a controversial five-minute major penalty in Game 7, on which San Jose scored four times and eventually won in overtime.
The teams didn’t wait for the regular season to get started to throw down, fighting out a physical preseason finale on Sunday in which there were 114 penalty minutes, a handful of misconducts and a fight.
“You know what guys you don’t like, what guys you don’t care for and they have the same thing towards us,” forward Paul Stastny said. “You just add that animosity to the game it just makes it fun.”
The home team will have mostly the same team that skated off the San Jose ice in April. Gone is defenseman Colin Miller and expected to be out are forwards Alex Tuch and Cody Eakin. The stars of the team are all back.
But Vegas will have something on opening night and perhaps the rest of the year that it has never had before. Former first-round pick Cody Glass is expected to make his NHL debut tonight, becoming the first Golden Knight draft pick to play in the league. He projects as the second-line center between Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone for the opener.
“He is the future,” Pacioretty said of the 20-year-old Glass. “He’s a tremendous talent, offensively, defensively and I’m really excited to see the strides that he’s made.”
On the other end, San Jose still has its monsters on the blue line in Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns. The forward corps look different though, as the Sharks are without Joe Pavelski, who departed to Dallas as a free agent, and Evander Kane, who was suspended three games for a penalty on Sunday.
Still, the Sharks project as one of the best teams in the Pacific Division and perhaps the biggest obstacle to Vegas winning its second title in two years.
“When you face off against a rival, a team that you’ve had a lot of recent history with, it just makes it that much more exciting,” Schmidt said. “It’s what hockey is all about, creating these rivalries. These are the games that are fun.”
In their short history, the Golden Knights have faced the Sharks 21 times — more than any other opponent. They’re a division rival and they’ve met in the playoffs the last two seasons. The Golden Knights not only start the season with a home game against the Sharks, their second game will be in San Jose.
It creates a rivalry that few expected for a third-year team. In Year 1, Vegas bested San Jose in six games. In Year 2, the Golden Knights fell in seven.
What will happen in Year 3? It all starts tonight.
“We’ve played this team a lot over the last two years and it should be fun,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “Our fans will be excited, their players will be excited and I think it’s going to be a great game.”
TV: NBC Sports Network (DirecTV 220, Cox 38, CenturyLink 640)
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-165, Sharks plus-135; over/under: 6.5 (EVEN, minus-120)
Golden Knights (Last season: 43-32-7) (24-12-5 home), third place, Pacific Division
Coach: Gerard Gallant (third season)
Points leader: Mark Stone (73)
Goals leader: Mark Stone (33)
Assists leader: Mark Stone (40)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.51 GAA, .913 save percentage)
Sharks (Last season: 46-27-9) (21-16-4 road), second place, Pacific Division
Coach: Peter DeBoer (fourth season)
Points leader: Brent Burns (83)
Goals leaders (among returners): Tomas Hertl (35)
Assists leader: Brent Burns (67)
Expected goalie: Martin Jones (2.94 GAA, .896 save percentage)
Golden Knights expected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault—William Karlsson—Reilly Smith,
Max Pacioretty—Cody Glass—Mark Stone
Brandon Pirri—Paul Stastny—Valentin Zykov
William Carrier—Tomas Nosek—Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb—Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore—Jon Merrill
Nick Holden—Deryk Engelland,
Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban