Lehner returns as Knights split two-game series against LA Kings
Vegas headed into Los Angeles Friday with goalie Robin Lehner returning to action after nearly missing two months due to a concussion injury.
Lehner would play in the first game with incumbent Marc-Andre Fleury stepping in for game two.
The split series moves Vegas to 21-7-1 on the season, still first in the West division.
Game One: Lehner returns and the ‘false-positive’ COVID test
Lehner’s return to the ice was not the only notable news as Vegas landed in Los Angeles on Friday to take on a young Kings team.
A false-positive test was administered to Vegas’ center William Karlsson.
He knew there was something off about it as he felt great as he awaited another test.
Head coach Pete DeBoer credited Karlsson for staying ready and prepared just in case the results came back in his favor. They did and the veteran showed up for Vegas like he has for the last four seasons.
The test was ruled false on an initial re-test of Karlsson roughly an hour before the start of the game. Karlsson would rejoin the team on the ice to man his normal position.
Following two goals from the steady left-wing Max Pacioretty in the first period, Vegas would need the knock out punched dialed up late in the second period and Karlsson delivered.
It was his seventh goal of the season.
Left-wing William Carrier would deliver the clincher in the third period to put Vegas up 4-2.
Lehner’s return was the prominent point of the game since he hadn’t played since Feb. 7 after battling a serious concussion injury that would come and go.
He talked with reporters earlier in the week to diminish any rumors about any possible displeasure with the team.
Lehner extinguished the rumors and mentioned he was thrilled to re-join his teammates on the ice after the long layoff.
He finished with 23 saves on 25 shot attempts.
Game two: Lack of power play prowess bites Golden Knights
Game two of the series against Los Angeles featured elite goalie play from Cal Peterson of the Kings.
He stopped 41 Vegas shot attempts until late in the third period when the Knights were desperate to get anything in the net. Left-wing Tomas Nosek would score late to make the game interesting before LA scored on a breakaway goal to seal the 3-1 victory over the Knights.
The loss was the first of the year against Los Angeles for Vegas.
“That second period, we just weren’t sharp enough, and that’s coaches included,” DeBoer told ESPN.
VGK was without one of its top offensive threats in Pacioretty, and his presence was sorely missed.
Pacioretty’s absence allowed LA’s defense to close in on captain Mark Stone, who finished with two shots for the game.
The Knights blew plenty of opportunities in the game including a 5-on-3 at the beginning of the third period due to overlapping penalties called on the Kings.
LA killed the power play and the failure to convert really highlighted Vegas’ struggles to convert power plays all season.
Vegas only converts on a little over 18 percent of its power plays, a number that is startling for a team that has been at the top of the West Division for a majority of the season.
Fleury’s allowed seven goals in his last two starts.
He and the rest of the team will have a chance to rebound at home in the T-Mobile Arena against the St. Louis Blues in a key game. Puck drop is at 7:00 p.m.