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Celebration aside, Alec Martinez has strong Golden Knights debut

Alec Martinez’s Golden Knights debut was picturesque except for one thing: The celebration.

The defenseman’s big miscue came right after he scored with 1:55 remaining in the first period. He attempted to jump for joy but fell and crashed into the end boards.

“I’ll be honest, I think there’s a sniper in the stands or something,” Martinez said. “I ate it pretty good.”

Other than that, Martinez didn’t do much wrong Thursday. He had a goal and an assist and looked comfortable at T-Mobile Arena, contributing to a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning a day after he was traded from the Los Angeles Kings.

Knights coach Pete DeBoer said the two-time Stanley Cup winner came “as advertised” and praised Martinez’s poise.

“You can see how smart he is, how composed he is,” DeBoer said. “He made a couple reads in that game where you can tell he’s a veteran presence back there. A young defenseman might have run out of position to chase a situation and he held and recognized and waited.”

There’s been a lot of waiting in Martinez’s life lately. He had to wait to see if he would be traded the past couple months. He had to wait to learn where he was going when the Kings held him out of a game Tuesday for precautionary reasons. And he had to wait for the phone call that would officially let him know his life was about to change.

So it’s no wonder he was patient Thursday. He just tried to soak everything in, from being announced as a starter, to the in-arena atmosphere, to his goal, to the teammates he was suddenly playing with.

He liked basically everything he saw.

“That’s pretty incredible to be able to play with a hockey club of this caliber,” Martinez said. “I kept on saying on the bench ‘This is a fun group to play with.’ Especially those forwards, they got a lot of talent up front.”

The Knights liked what they saw in Martinez too. They saw a player more than capable of contributing at both ends of the ice.

Martinez had two points — only the second time this season he’s had that many in a game — and also recorded a hit, a takeaway and four blocked shots. He played the second-most shorthanded minutes on the team (2:52), behind only defenseman Brayden McNabb (4:04).

It remains to be seen if Martinez is worth the price the Knights paid to acquire him but Thursday was certainly a good start. Outside of the celly, that is, but his teammates were willing to be lenient.

“We’ll work on that,” right wing Ryan Reaves said. “It’s only day one.”

Muffin man

Reaves was shocked and disappointed to learn after the game that Thursday was National Muffin Day.

Reaves, who was infamously labeled “The Muffin Man” by San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane in the first round of the playoffs last year, believes if he had known beforehand he would have performed even better.

He still scored his seventh goal 10 seconds into the third period.

“You should have told me that before,” Reaves said. “I would have scored three. You have to tell me these things.”

Gold still glimmering

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury improved to 3-0 in his gold pads this season. He has a .931 save percentage and 1.67 goals-against average while wearing them the last three games.

“My teammates are playing great too and I think that makes me look better,” Fleury said. “Obviously, winning is good and it helps you relax.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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