LOS ANGELES — – Mark Stone scored the winning goal with 24.9 seconds left and the Vegas Golden Knights underscored coach Bruce Cassidy’s debut Tuesday night with a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings.
Arthur Kaliyev equalized for the Kings with 7:02 left, but the Knights capitalized in the final seconds after the Kings made an ill-advised move onto the ice rather than counting down the overtime clock. Chandler Stephenson controlled a mid-ice turnover and scored it for Stone, who whipped a shot past Jonathan Quick to end Las Vegas’ three-goal third period.
“We’ve had our glitches, but those are just learning curves,” Stone said. “If we can cut that in half, we’ll do it. Powerplay talked a little between periods. We pushed for that in the third.”
William Karlsson had a goal and an assist as the Golden Knights fired up a whopping 51 shots at Quick, including 20 in the last third. Jonathan Marchessault and Jack Eichel also scored, while Alex Pietrangelo had assists in Vegas’ last two goals.
Cassidy spent the last six seasons with the Bruins, who fired him in June, despite Boston making the playoffs every year of his tenure. The Golden Knights hired him eight days later to bring the NHL’s model expansion franchise back into the postseason.
“I thought we showed a lot of resilience,” Cassidy said. “We kept pushing back when something didn’t go our way. … As a manager you always worry that if you don’t know your team that well – it’s our first league game – what will happen if things aren’t going well? For me it’s always a sign of good character in the room when a team is resilient, so that’s a big plus for me no matter what the outcome.
Logan Thompson made 27 saves in his first game since becoming Vegas goalie-choice in the absence of injured Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit.
Quick made 47 saves in his 14th opening night start in the Kings’ last 15 seasons. Gabe Vilardi and Adrian Kempe also scored for Los Angeles, but coach Todd McLellan lamented his team’s poor game management and overall defensive intensity, while saying the Kings’ last-minute curse “makes no sense” and “was just stupidity” .
“We’ve preached and preached about it,” McLellan said. “Sometimes you have to get hit pretty hard with a two by four. Maybe that was it. … That’s all game management. That means getting engaged and ready. Your team did better than we did tonight.”
Vegas’ impressive entry into the NHL in 2017 coincided with the Kings’ decline from their best times in franchise history, but the momentum shifted between two teams last season, driving through about 3 1/2 hours of desert highway were separated.
Los Angeles ended its three-year playoff drought, stretching Edmonton to seven games in the first round after finishing the regular season five points ahead of the Golden Knights, who missed the postseason for the first time.
In their first meeting of the new season, the Knights showed they have more than enough offense to hold their own against the defense-oriented Kings.
“We wasted a superb goalkeeping evening by not getting at least a point,” said McLellan. “This is disappointing.”
Eichel put Vegas ahead with a rebound goal early in the third, but Kempe equalized 2 1/2 minutes later with a one-timer after a sharp pass from captain Anze Kopitar, beginning his 17th season with the Kings.
After Eichel and Kempe exchanged goals early on in the third goal, Karlsson skillfully redirected a soft pass from Pietrangelo from the point to 12:43 into the game. Los Angeles responded just after a power play expired when Kaliyev hit an open net after a scramble in front.
Phil Kessel failed to score in the 35-year-old forward’s Vegas debut, and prolific Swiss forward Kevin Fiala failed to score in his first game with the Kings.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman attended the game and said he was pleased with the renovations and additions to the Kings’ downtown arena. Though the league doesn’t have an active expansion plan, Bettman said he’s received numerous inquiries from parties interested in getting a new franchise in the NHL, which currently has 32 teams symmetrically.
Bettman also said the league is still investigating the separate sexual assault allegations against Ian Cole of Tampa Bay and the 2018 Canada World Junior Championship team.
Golden Knights: host Blackhawks on Thursday.
Kings: Host Kraken on Thursday.