SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – It was just an NHL preseason, but the sold out crowd at Vivint Arena made it seem like much more.
The LA Kings defeated the Vegas Golden Knights in front of a raucous crowd at Vivint Arena, 3-1.
This was the third NHL preseason game at Vivint Arena since 2018, and is the first of three games dubbed the “Frozen Fury” to be played between the two teams over the next three years.
The Kings will be the designated home team for the games, owing largely to the fact that team president Luc Robitaille makes a residence in the Heber Valley area.
It was the hosts that gave their fans more to cheer about tonight, however, as LA tallied in all three periods, with perhaps their most complete performance of the three exhibition games they’ve played to date.
“There was a little bit more of a regular-season feel here tonight, rather than being, you get to be in a different environment with fans that don’t get to see us as often,” said Brenden Lemieux, who scored the first goal of the game for the Kings. “Great environment for us overall.”
When Vegas did have opportunities, minus the one goal they scored, Garret Sparks was there. Sparks was impressive between the pipes in his first start in a Kings sweater, with a few pretty nice looking saves, especially in the first 20 minutes of play. The Illinois native finished with 20 saves on 21 shots, and a perfect 3-of-3 in the shootout.
The Kings scored the lone goal of the opening period, as Brendan Lemieux opened his account for the preseason less than two minutes into the game. Austin Strand’s shot from the right point was stopped by Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner, but Lemieux crashed the net, corralled the rebound onto his forehand and slotted home for the early advantage.
“There’s definitely a less-physical aspect to the preseason, but I try to bring my game every time I play,” Lemieux said. “Sometimes it comes naturally, sometimes it’s more forced, but tonight, it was a great crowd and it was a fun environment to play in.”
The second period also featured just one goal, again an early tally by the Kings. Forward Gabe Vilardi led a 2-on-1 rush with Lias Andersson, with the former feeding the latter through the slot, right to left. Andersson took the puck to the net, deked to his forehand and slid it home smoothly past Lehner. The goal was Andersson’s second in as many games during the preseason to date.
The Golden Knights got on the board less than five minutes into the third period, a well-placed shot from defenseman Daniil Miromanov, before the Kings returned fire with a power-play goal just shy of the midway mark. A tic-tac-toe passing play, finished by Arthur Kaliyev in front, gave the Kings back their two-goal edge. Vilardi and Vladimir Tkachev each made excellent passes on the play, with Quinton Byfield also getting a touch in front, before Kaliyev swept it home.
The NHL regular season begins October 12th.