Vegas wins big in first-ever pre-season game
Tyler Wong of the Las Vegas Golden Knights celebrates after scoring a goal against goalie Richard Backman of the Vancouver Canucks in NHL pre-season action on Sept. 17, 2017 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver. (Rich Lam/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER — Tyler Wong scored three times and added an assist in the Vegas Golden Knights’ first-ever pre-season game as the NHL’s newest franchise defeated the Vancouver Canucks 9-4 on Sunday.
Tomas Hyka added two goals of his own, while Tomas Nosek, with a goal and two assists, Nick Suzuki with a goal and an assist, Paul Thompson and Alex Tuch also scored for Vegas. Brad Hunt chipped in with three assists, while Cody Glass, the sixth overall pick in 2017, had two of his own.
Brock Boeser, with two goals and an assist, Philip Holm, with a goal and an assist, and Jordan Subban replied for Vancouver.
The Golden Knights dressed a roster of mostly prospects and fringe NHLers, leaving behind the likes of forwards James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, David Perron, Cody Eakin, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson, defencemen Brayden McNabb, Deryk Engelland and Luca Sbisa, as well as goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Almost all of the Canucks’ veterans, meanwhile, were on a charter plane somewhere over the Pacific Ocean on their way to China for two historic pre-season games against the Los Angeles Kings in Beijing and Shanghai next week.
In the spirit of Vegas’ debut, the Canucks had an Elvis Presley impersonator singing classics like “Viva Las Vegas” and “Burning Love” during some TV timeouts at Rogers Arena for some added Sin City flair to what was, for the most part, a sloppy game.
Wearing their road white uniforms with grey, gold and red trim, along with black pants and white and gold gloves, the Golden Knights survived a 5-on-3 power play for 1:44 early in the first period before Wong opened the scoring with the first exhibition goal in club history.
The winger collected a chipped feed from Glass on a power play and cut down the right before beating Richard Bachman on a nice shortside backhand at 4:58.
Boeser — who scored four goals in nine games at the end of the 2016-17 campaign and is in the conversation for a job with the Canucks — tied things at 10:52 when the 23rd pick in 2015 ripped a shot shortside on Dylan Ferguson for his second of the preseason after also scoring in overtime against the Kings in L.A. on Saturday.
But Vegas struck again with the man advantage 1:28 later when Glass slid a no-look feed to Hyka, who made no mistake past Bachman.
Vancouver responded again at 13:44 when Jordan Subban took advantage of stick-less Golden Knights defenceman Griffin Reinhart to beat Ferguson at the far post off the rush.
Vegas restored its lead for good at 14:28 when Nosek banged home a loose puck in the crease after Bachman stopped Stefan Matteau on a breakaway. Wong scored his second by burying a rebound off Hunt’s point shot that hit the post at 17:30 to make it 4-2 after one period.
The Golden Knights scored again on the power play at 5:25 of the second when Tuch tipped home Shea Theodore’s point shot.
Thatcher Demko, viewed as the potential goalie of the future in Vancouver, replaced Bachman just before the game’s midway point, stopping Tuch on a partial break late in the second.
Vancouver got one back at 2:21 of the third when Holm, who hit the crossbar twice on the Canucks’ early 5-on-3, finally connected on another two-man advantage to make it 5-3.
But Holm was the culprit Vegas’ sixth of the afternoon when the defenceman coughed the puck under pressure right to Wong, who snapped a quick shot past a surprised Demko at 6:56 for the hat-trick goal.
Hyka then made it 7-3 with his second at 9:55 before Suzuki deked Demko to the ice 38 seconds later.
Boeser got his third in two games with 7:11 left on the power play before Thompson made it 9-4 with 3:05 remaining on the clock.