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October 22, 2019

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Golden Knights shut out Avalanche in lopsided preseason win

Zykov

Jack Dempsey / AP

Golden Knights left wing Valentin Zykov (7) celebrates a goal against the Colorado Avalanche with teammates on the bench during the first period of a preseason game, Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2019, in Denver.

The Golden Knights continued their strong preseason Tuesday night, pulling away in the third period and blanking the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center in Denver, 5-0.

Valentin Zykov was credited with the first Vegas score via own-goal by Colorado, and Brandon Pirri notched the second. Nicolas Hague opened the third period with a goal and Nicolas Roy followed shortly after, the first of the preseason for each of them. Then Pirri added another on the power play with 3:56 to go.

Goalie Garret Sparks made his Vegas debut, stopping all 23 shots he faced.

Here are three takeaways from the victory:

New-look penalty kill

Despite losing just one forward from their regular penalty-killing rotation (Pierre-Edouard Bellemare), the Golden Knights wanted to get some new players some looks. On Tuesday, William Carrier and Alex Tuch both saw short-handed time after combining for 33 penalty kill seconds during the regular season.

The trial is off to a good start. Both are deceptively fast for their size and used their speed and physicality optimally. Vegas was perfect on three short-handed chances, including a full two minutes at 5-on-3. The Golden Knights are 12-for-12 on penalty kills in the preseason.

Nicolas Roy has also looked good short-handed through two preseason games. Roy, who was acquired from Carolina in the Erik Haula trade, profiles best as a fourth-line center and Bellemare replacement and is making a strong impression.

Decisions to be made

The decision on who plays the third-line left wing won’t be easy. Three of the top contenders were all on the same line Tuesday, with Pirri, Tomas Nosek and Zykov battling to see who joins Cody Eakin and Tuch.

And all three did what they needed to do. Nosek won faceoffs and was steady defensively, Pirri scored twice on the power play and Zykov’s hustle forced a miscue by Colorado rookie Bowen Byram that led to a goal and set up Pirri’s second. The trio each does something different and while it’s likely all make the team, who dresses on that line is not yet evident.

Golden Knights react to no lockout

On Monday, the NHL Players’ Association announced it would not opt out of the current collective bargaining agreement and end it next September, ensuring there would be labor peace through at least the 2022 season.

“Life’s good on both sides. Could it be better on both sides? Yeah, but eventually that’s what a new CBA does, it kind of tinkers with what both sides what a little bit,” center Paul Stastny said at practice Tuesday. “I was part of the lockout seven years ago, and you fight for certain things and they fight for certain things, but in the end, nobody wins.”

The last lockout was in 2012-13, when the league canceled half the season and played a 48-game schedule. He was not yet in the league the last time the league called off an entire season, in 2004-05. Marc-Andre Fleury was, and the Vegas goaltender hopes it doesn’t happen again.

“There was always talk about the lockout ending and we’d play two-thirds of the year, half the year, a quarter of the year and it never happened. Your hopes come up and it’s disappointing when it doesn’t happen,” Fleury said. “The game’s been growing, it’s been doing well and I’m glad we’re not bringing on a stoppage to our game for us, for the fans, for the league; it’s good news.”

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