For the first time in his NHL career, Max Pacioretty didn’t wear a Montreal Canadiens jersey Sunday.
His new threads fit just fine.
“It was different,” Pacioretty said, “but it felt really good.”
The veteran left wing had a goal and an assist in the opening 8:39 of his debut and helped the Golden Knights to a 7-2 victory over Arizona in the exhibition opener at T-Mobile Arena.
Jonathan Marchessault scored 16 seconds into the game and added another goal 41 seconds into the second period. William Karlsson had a goal and an assist, and Tomas Nosek finished with three assists for the second-year club.
“It was like the playoffs. It was unbelievable. I’ve still got goosebumps,” Pacioretty said. “It was just as I remembered it when I played here (last) season.”
Playing their first game since losing to Washington in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 7, the Knights had six players score goals and went 4-for-6 on the power play to the delight of the announced crowd of 17,567.
Pacioretty was acquired in a Sept. 9 trade after 10 seasons with Montreal. He skated on a line with rookie center Cody Glass and winger Tomas Hyka against the Coyotes and adjusted quickly to the Knights’ systems.
“I thought he came out tonight, first time playing with our new bunch of players, and I thought he played well,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “He worked hard. He was up and down his ring. He did his job tonight, and I think it’s just getting used to his teammates. Worked hard and getting used to our systems, and away he goes. He’s an easy-going guy. He’s fitting in with our group real good.”
Pacioretty picked up an assist on defenseman Jake Bischoff’s goal four minutes into the first period and tallied on the power play a little more than four minutes later.
After gathering a pass from defenseman Nicolas Hague, Pacioretty didn’t get good wood on his shot from the slot. But it managed to slide between the pads of Arizona goaltender Darcy Kuemper for a 3-1 Knights lead.
Pacioretty had two shots on goal and two hits in 14:40 of ice time.
“We played very fast, and I didn’t find myself thinking out there one time,” Pacioretty said. “And that’s generally when I run into problems with my game is when I tend to overthink things. But when you play a fast game and everyone’s on the same page, you don’t really have a choice. You just have to react.
“They’ve been hammering it in our heads that we want to move the puck quick. We want to get up the ice, get the puck out of our end and go on offense. And you can see that’s what we did tonight, and what makes hockey fun.”
Glass finished with two assists, as he tries to show the coaching staff he’s ready for the NHL. The 19-year-old benefited from his time alongside a veteran like Pacioretty.
“I think he plays a really high pace, and I think that’s something I need moving forward,” Glass said. “He’s always a step ahead of everyone. That’s why he’s such a smart player in this league. He protects the puck really well, and that’s something I’ve tried to improve on especially against tougher guys. Having him on my line, it helped a lot for me.”
Hauge and fellow rookie Erik Brannstrom each had a goal and an assist. Defenseman Brad Hunt contributed two assists.
“The past couple days, I said that I felt comfortable, and tonight I felt very comfortable,” Pacioretty said. “Everyone did.”
1. Penalty shot denied. Knights goaltender Dylan Ferguson turned away Vince Hinostroza on a penalty shot with 2:55 left in the first period. Ferguson,who turns 20 on Thursday, made 25 saves in his second career NHL preseason victory.
2. Long look. Defenseman Nicolas Hague led the Knights in time on the ice (26:49), which was more than four mintues more than any of his teammates. The 19-year-old struggled at times, but also scored in the second period and added an assist.
3. Too good. The Knights’ first line of William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Tomas Nosek was head and shoulders above the competition, combining for three goals and four assists. Their roster spots are safe.