The four goals scored by the Golden Knights during the first period of Tuesday night’s home opener each held their own significance, from Tomas Nosek’s goal to James Neal’s tally on the power play that capped the blitz.
But it was Deryk Engelland’s goal that seemed to hit most everyone at T-Mobile Arena.
Engelland, a longtime Las Vegas Valley resident, had the Knights’ second goal in the 5-2 victory over Arizona, and the moment continued to resonate around the locker room Wednesday at City National Arena.
“Deryk Engelland’s not going to score 25 goals for us this year, and the timing was perfect,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “For the speech he gave, and again, I think the big guy looks down on you and says, ‘You know what? This is the way it should be,’ and Deryk Engelland was the perfect guy for that.”
Engelland addressed the sellout crowd at the conclusion of the pregame ceremony that honored the victims and first responders in the mass shooting on the Strip on Oct. 1.
Less than five minutes in, the defenseman known more for his physical play took a pass from Brendan Leipsic and ripped a one-timer from the right point past Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta for a 2-0 lead.
Engelland was not available to the media following Wednesday’s off-ice workout, but said after the game it will go down as “a top memory in my career.”
The magnitude of the goal and its place in the Knights’ fledgling history was not lost on Engelland’s teammates, either.
“I don’t think there wasn’t a smile in that arena when (Engelland) scored,” fellow defenseman Jason Garrison said. “He had a terrific speech before the game and obviously he’s local. He’s raised his family here, and I’m sure it was emotional for him and his family, but everyone at the rink was very excited to see that.
“Those things happen, and they happen for a reason.”
Garrison also played a prominent role in the pregame ceremony and said it was an honor to participate.
Garrison was at center ice with Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Coyotes for a ceremonial puck drop that included survivors from the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting.
“It was an emotional ceremony for everybody involved,” Garrison said.
On the farm
Defenseman Shea Theodore (three goals, two assists) and forward Teemu Pulkkinen (one goal, four assists) lead Chicago of the AHL in scoring after two games. The Wolves next play Saturday at Ontario, California.
Also, forward Keegan Kolesar was reassigned from Chicago to Quad City of the ECHL.