LAS VEGAS– The Golden Knights annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day matinee home game has quickly become a bit of a tradition in Las Vegas. The 3 p.m. puck drop comes just a few hours after the conclusion of the city’s renowned Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade that takes place downtown. The Golden Knights fared better in this season’s edition of the game, beating the Predators 4-1 after being shut out by the Stars 4-0 on the holiday last year.
Monday’s game also marked the NHL debut for Golden Knights’ 2020 first round pick Brendan Brisson. The debut adds to a great start to the year for the Michigan man, who saw the school he helped lead to the 2022 Frozen Four win the national title on the football side of things just a week ago.
“After the first shift it just felt like another hockey game,” Brisson told the media after the game. “Same feeling putting the jersey on, but this time it really matters. It was a great feeling to go out there for that little lap and then get the first shift out the way and to get the team win.”
How it happened
If you saw the 1-0 score line in favor of the Golden Knights at the first intermission, you may have assumed they had a strong period. That would be the incorrect assumption. The Knights were unable to get off a shot on goal for the first 14:51 of the game, bringing their sluggish form from Saturday night along with them on Monday afternoon.
That was until the captain came to party. Mark Stone put the Knights fourth shot on goal into the back of the net off an assist from Pavel Dorofeyev at the 15:25 mark. If you’re doing the math, that was just a mere 34 seconds after Alex Pietrangelo put the Knights first shot on net.
Somehow, the Knights headed to the break with a 1-0 lead while only trailing in the SOG department 8-5.
Whatever was said in the locker room between periods must have lit a fire under the Knights, because things got cooking far quicker during the second go-around. Just over a minute into the period, the captain Mark Stone helped himself to a second serving, burying another goal off the primary assist from Chandler Stephenson. Dorofeyev earned the secondary assist on the goal for his second multi-point effort of the season and the fifth of his career overall, according to VGK Communications.
The two teams held pat for the next 16 minutes of hockey. Just over 17 minutes into the middle stanza, the Predators broke through for their first goal when Luke Evangelista redirected an Alexandre Carrier shot past Logan Thompson and into the net to cut the Golden Knights lead to 2-1.
The Predators momentum was short lived. Two minutes later, Mark Stone buried his third goal of the afternoon to complete the hat trick and put the Knights ahead 3-1. There were far more empty seats in the barn than usual, but it still got as loud as it’s been in weeks after Stone completed the hatty.
It was Stone’s first career regular season hat trick. He notably tallied a hat trick in the Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup clinching Game 5 last season.
“I was just fortunate enough to be in shooting spots tonight,” Mark Stone said to reporters after the performance. “I’d be a fool to pass up some of the ones I got, right? Those come some days and other days they don’t.”
The third period was a procession, with neither team adding a goal until a Jonathan Marchessault empty netter in the waning moments that set the final score at 4-1. Alex Pietrangelo appeared to suffer some sort of injury due to cut or blow of some kind to the facial area midway through the stanza but was able to remain on the bench. Zach Whitecloud also headed down the tunnel in the third period but more on his injury status has yet to be disclosed. It should be noted Whitecloud also left Saturday’s game in the third period.
The Golden Knights continue their four game homestand on Thursday, taking on the Rangers before completing the stand on Saturday against the Penguins. Thursday’s puck drop is set for 7 p.m. local time at T-Mobile Arena.