Richard Brian / Special to the Sun
Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019 | 6:06 p.m.
We are still more than two weeks away from a Golden Knights game of significance, and it would be foolish to draw too many conclusions from a preseason game, particularly with the first preseason game on Sunday mostly featuring players fighting for a roster spot.
That disclaimer does not make the following statement any less true. Max Pacioretty was a monster against the Coyotes and appears to be more than ready for the regular season to begin.
Pacioretty scored three of the Golden Knights’ goals and assisted on the other in a 6-2 win at T-Mobile Arena.
“I had a really good summer, I felt I was skating really well the first couple days of camp, carried it over into tonight,” Pacioretty said. “Not just for myself, but the whole team.”
Pacioretty isn’t the only veteran who appears ready for the regular season.
Reilly Smith showed in the third period what makes him one of the team’s best penalty-killers. Vegas was defending a 5-on-3 when Smith came out of the box, collected an Arizona shot, chipped the puck off the glass to exit the zone, collect it, raced down the ice and beat goalie Erik Kallgren through the five-hole.
It was a short-handed and unassisted goal for Smith, who helped Vegas keep its penalty kill perfect on the afternoon.
It was a high-paced game, maybe more than expected for not only the first preseason game for both teams, but the first NHL game of the league year. There were five goals and five penalties in the first period of the game in front of 17,768 fans that didn’t seem to care about it being a preseason game.
“It wasn’t like the first exhibition game,” Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. “They played hard, they played a complete game and it’s fun to play like that. All the guys on the bench were pretty excited.”
It was in that first period that Vegas rookie Keegan Kolesar grabbed attention for the wrong reasons, laying a thunderous hit on Arizona’s Aaron Ness at center ice. Kolesar was assessed a five-minute major for charging, then another five minutes for fighting when Christian Fischer jumped in to defend Ness.
“You never want to see that happen,” Kolesar said. “I feel really bad about the hit. It’s a fast game and mistakes like that can happen.”