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Fiala’s hat trick sinks Knights

Left-wing Kevin Fiala recorded a hat trick to help the Los Angeles Kings defeat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1 Saturday, Jan. 7.

Vegas was held scoreless for 57:18 of the 60 minutes. Center Jonathan Marchessault scored the lone goal off assists from fellow centers Nicolas Roy and Phil Kessel. Marchessault’s goal prevented Vegas from being shut out, something that has yet to happen to this team all season.

“That was probably the most disappointing game of the year for us when I look at our competitiveness from top to bottom,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I have to look at myself and what I do to prepare the players. I thought our first was good but once we got behind it, I don’t think we had the bite, the compete, the will, etc. and we should.”

The loss moves Veags to 27-13-2 on the season, keeping them at 56 points. This loss also tightens up the race for the top spot in the Pacific Division. The Kings now only trail the Knights by four points in the division.

LA has now won the last two meetings between these two teams and currently leads the season series 2-1. The last regular season matchup between the two teams will take place Apr. 6 at T-Mobile Arena.

The last time the Knights were held to a single goal in a game was back on Dec. 11 when they lost 3-1 to the Boston Bruins at home.

“We lost the neutral zone,” defenseman Brayden Mcnabb said. “They controlled the neutral zone. It’s not like we were in our own end all night, but we turned some pucks over in the neutral zone and fed right into their gameplan. It’s a frustrating and tough loss but they outplayed us for sure.”

The Vegas homestand continues on Thursday, Jan. 12 as they welcome the Florida Panthers to T-Mobile Arena. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.

“I think we just played a little too much into their hands,” captain Mark Stone said “They’re a pretty defensive team. They clog the neutral zone. We really didn’t get much of a forecheck and put the puck in some bad places. We just turned the puck over a little too much and didn’t get any sustained pressure against them.”

For the second straight game, the Vegas Golden Knights got healthier in the lineup as Marchessault made his return to the lineup Saturday after missing the previous six games with injury.

On Thursday, centers Jack Eichel and Paul Cotter both made their returns to the lineup. Eichel and Cotter found the score sheet in their returns with Eichel racking up three points (one goal, two assists) and Cotter grabbing two points (one goal, one assist).

For the second time this season, Cassidy made a goalie change mid-game. VGK’s Adin Hill took over the goaltending duties from Logan Thompson between the second and third period. Thompson finished his night with 16 saves on 19 shots faced for a final save percentage of .842. Hill saved 2 of the 3 shots he faced.

“Might as well let [Hill] get in on the fun right?” Cassidy said.

On the topic of goaltending, LA’s Pheonix Copley finished the night with 19 saves on 20 shots faced for a final save percentage of .950. He was named the third star of the game behind teammates Anze Kopitar and Fiala.

The second period is one that I am sure a lot of Golden Knights fans are going to want to forget. The Kings scored two more goals in the period after coming into the middle frame up 1-0. At the end of 40 minutes, Vegas was scoreless and staring down a three-goal deficit going into the third period.

LA controlled shots on goal 11-4 in the second period.

The opening period saw chances on both sides. Center William Karlsson and Marchessault both had shots doink off the post and out. LA grabbed a 1-0 lead off the stick of Fiala in the closing minutes of the first to take the one goal lead into the intermission.

Vegas led the shots on goal category after one by a tally of 9-8.


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