The LA Kings went to overtime for the second straight night in the preseason but came away with their first victory, a 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights on Monday evening at T-Mobile Arena.
Forward Kevin Fiala scored his first (preseason) goal in a Kings jersey, with defenseman Brandt Clarke netting the primary assist. Forward Adrian Kempe scored the game-winning goal in overtime, off of a Fiala assist, while goaltender Pheonix Copley made 23 saves on 23 shots in relief to earn the victory.
The Golden Knights opened the scoring with the lone goal of the first period, as center Jack Eichel buried a breakaway to get the hosts on the board. The Kings forechecked aggressively but were beaten by a chip off the boards, which sprang Eichel in a footrace the other way. The centerman moved in on Cal Petersen and beat the Kings netminder on the blocker side for the game-opening goal.
The Kings tied the game in the second period as Fiala buried his first goal of the preseason, in his debut with the Kings. Leading the rush, Fiala executed a give-and-go with defenseman Brandt Clarke, with the latter drawing two defensemen to him, creating space for Fiala who accepted the return feed, dragged the puck onto his forehand and snapped home the goal.
With the teams off to overtime, the Kings earned a power play in the extra session, as Rasmus Kupari was taken down as he looked to start a 2-on-1 rush. On a 4-on-3 man advantage, Fiala fed Adrian Kempe with a cross-ice pass, which the latter buried for the game-winning goal.
Hear from Fiala, goaltender Pheonix Copley and Head Coach Todd McLellan after the game.
*Petersen left the game after 20 minutes with a lower-body injury. An update on his status from Todd McLellan below.
On his first game, and win, in a Kings jersey
It was good, it was a battle, I got to get some game situation stuff in, which gets ramped up during camp but you don’t really get that kind of game situation stuff until you’re in a game. It was good to get my feet wet and now on to the next one.
On the things that goalies can only re-adjust to in a game situation, as opposed to practice
A lot of it is traffic stuff, guys are driving to the net, trying to get in your way so you can’t see and obviously the intensity gets ramped up in these games. I’d say the intensity and traffic are the two biggest things that kind of changed from summer skates and the scrimmages in camp.
On being ready to play at any time, and entering in early due to Cal Petersen’s injury
Yeah, I mean I knew I was going in at some point a second [period] so just 10 minutes earlier, it is what it is, just a little sooner than I thought. At the same time, it’s kind of just “I’ve got to get in there and do my thing.”
On having the mentality of being ready at any time as a backup goaltender
Yeah, definitely, that’s part of the job, you have to be ready when that happens and you have to go in and you’re there for the team. That’s just part of the gig.
On evaluating tonight’s game versus last night in San Jose
I think tonight was an easier game for us to evaluate. We got to see more players in common situations. Penalty kill and power play, those are situations where the bench gets shortened and we haven’t had any work on them yet. 5-on-5, we did some good things, we did some things that we’ve actually worked on poorly, so we have to fix some areas of our game. Still, it’s back-to-back in the exhibition season, game two, there’s things we can be happy with and then there’s part of the game that we have to fix.
On evaluating Kevin Fiala in a game setting tonight for the first time
Well, he doesn’t need many opportunities, I don’t think, to score. He had very few chances, yet he scored a goal and set up a nice one in overtime. Obviously the offensive instincts are there. I think it’s going to take them some time to gel as a line and figure each other out, figure out how we’re going to play the game as a group. It won’t be any different than Phil Danault when he arrived last year, it took him four or five games just to figure everything out, but we’re excited about having him here and he seems to be fitting in real well.
On the approach to special teams this early in preseason
Well, you draw a few things on the board, you show a few video clips and you hope that it works. That’s why training camp is two weeks long and then you get some practice time to begin the season. We’ve got a practice, then we play on Wednesday again, so we’ll try and add an element to our game tomorrow that skate. That could very well be a piece of either the power play or the penalty kill and see if we can implement it on Wednesday.
On Pheonix Copley’s play tonight, coming in for the final 40 minutes
Phoenix knew he was going in today, we were going to split the night as it was and after the first, Cal didn’t feel real good. He went in and knowing you’re going in at that point may give you a better chance to prepare even. He loosened up, he got ready between periods and when he went in, I thought he played very well in the last 40 minutes.
On Cal Petersen leaving tonight’s game with a lower body injury
He felt something and instead of pushing him through it, it makes no sense. We’ll evaluate him and we’ll see where he is tomorrow.
– Kevin Fiala collected a goal and an assist tonight, giving him his first preseason points as a member of the Kings.
– Brandt Clarke registered a point for the second consecutive night, giving him assists in the first two preseason games of his NHL career.
– Adrian Kempe (1-0-1), Jordan Spence (0-1-1) and Jaret Anderson-Dolan (0-1-1) each tallied a point in the victory. Spence led the team with 25:23 in total time on ice.
– Entering the game in relief, Pheonix Copley made 23 saves on 23 shots to earn his first victory of the preseason.
– Dating back to the preseason opener against San Jose, the Kings are 12-of-12 on the penalty kill thus far in exhibition action.
The Kings are scheduled to skate tomorrow broken into groups, with Group A set to hit the ice at 11:30 AM at Toyota Sports Performance Center.