LAS VEGAS — In the first meeting of what figures to be a fun Pacific Division rivalry, the new guys in Vegas struck first.
William Karlsson scored twice, Maxime Lagace stopped 27 shots and the Golden Knights beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 on Sunday night.
Cody Eakin and Alex Tuch also scored for Vegas, which improved to 8-1-0 at home and 12-6-1 overall in its inaugural season. Reilly Smith had two assists, helping the Golden Knights win the first Interstate 15 matchup.
“The Kings’ chants were shut down in three seconds. It was awesome, I love that, that’s a good atmosphere,” Tuch said. “Guys in this locker room, they’ve been a part of rivalries for a long time. It brings a different kind of energy for each guy.”
The Kings got goals from Trevor Lewis and Tanner Pearson but dropped to 12-7-2. The Golden Knights (25) moved within a point of Los Angeles (26) in the division.
Vegas coach Gerard Gallant downplayed the Vegas-LA rivalry and said he was more concerned with his team matching the Kings’ physicality.
“I’m pretty happy we won tonight because we’re one point out of first place, and we’re battling hard and we’re trying to win as many games as we can,” Gallant said. “It didn’t matter if it was LA or Phoenix or whoever we played tonight. It’s just about playing another team and trying to get another two points.
“I was really happy how we played. We know LA is a tough, physical team to play against, and our team stood up well. I was happy with how we responded.”
Karlsson opened the scoring 55 seconds into the game with a wrist shot that beat Jonathan Quick through the five-hole.
Eakin scored his third goal of the season later in the period when he ripped a shot past Quick on the glove side.
Less than a minute later, Quick got caught behind the net trying to clear the puck. Smith passed to Karlsson, and he punched in his ninth goal of the season, matching his career high.
“They came after us right away and obviously got the three-goal lead,” Lewis said. “We battled back, but I think we kind of killed ourselves in the first period. The building is loud, there was a lot of energy. They’re a good team, they’re a fast team, they came out hard right away and we weren’t ready for it.”
Quick was replaced by Darcy Kuemper after stopping just six of nine shots. Kuemper stopped 30 of 30 shots the rest of the way, with Tuch scoring into an empty net.
“That’s certainly not the start we wanted,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “You dig a hole on the road against any team, especially in here, it’s tough to come back. But I thought the guys, they dug in, I thought they got going.”
The Kings didn’t get on the board until midway through the second, when Lewis capitalized on a turnover, made a nifty move to his left and slipped one past Lagace to cut Vegas’ lead to 3-1.
Los Angeles got within one when Pearson was left alone in the slot and his wrist shot beat Lagace with 8:15 left in the game.
“If you look at all our rivalries — Anaheim and San Jose — now put these guys in the mix,” Pearson said. “It was a pretty hard-fought first game, and there will be a lot more to come. It’s just this way division plays each other, it gets intense.”
NOTES: Golden Knights G Malcolm Subban was activated from the injured list Friday and was in uniform for the first time since Oct. 21, when he left the game with a lower body injury.
Vegas: At Anaheim on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles: Hosts Winnipeg on Wednesday night.
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