Updated February 6, 2021 - 11:55 am
Dylan Coghlan’s NHL debut probably went differently than he dreamed of.
There were no fans at T-Mobile Arena when he took his ceremonial solo lap before Friday’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. His family had to watch from British Columbia instead of being in the stands.
All in all, it still turned out OK. Coghlan played 13:15 in his first game, and his team won 5-2.
— Ben Gotz (@BenSGotz) February 6, 2021
“I’ve never played in front of no fans before,” Coghlan said. “That was definitely a little bit weird. You have to create your own energy, and that’s what I tried to do. … It was awesome.”
The game had been a long time coming for Coghlan, who originally signed with the Knights in September 2017 after impressing in development and rookie camp. The 22-year-old climbed the organization’s ladder from there.
He emerged as a promising prospect because of his ability to move and shoot pucks. His 15 goals in the American Hockey League in 2018-19 ranked first among rookie defensemen, and his 40 points were third.
Coghlan was on the Knights’ expanded roster in the postseason and opened this season on the taxi squad. He learned earlier this week that he would be activated with Brayden McNabb injured and Alex Pietrangelo in the NHL’s COVID-19 protocols.
The first people he called to share the news with were his parents, brother and grandfather. He said, understandably, they were excited. The same applied to his roommates, teammates Cody Glass and Nic Hague.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Glass said before the game.
The only thing that went wrong for Coghlan is his roommates outshined him a little. Glass and Hague each scored goals, but Coghlan will have to wait for his first point.
“I was happy for them to both score and get on the scoresheet,” Coghlan said. “It’s unfortunate I didn’t, but I was happy to be here. I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else or any other team.”
Here are three other takeaways from the win:
1. Top six soars
The Knights’ top two lines were dominant.
Left wing Jonathan Marchessault, center William Karlsson and right wing Reilly Smith had two five-on-five goals and outchanced the Kings 8-4. And they were the team’s second-best line.
Left wing Max Pacioretty, center Chandler Stephenson and right wing Mark Stone continued an impressive start by tilting the ice almost every time they were on it. They had two five-on-five goals and a 14-1 edge in scoring chances.
Pacioretty, who had three assists, became the second player in Knights history to record consecutive three-point games. Stone had a goal and an assist, plus a power-play goal that was disallowed because of goaltender interference. He’s sixth in the league in points per game at 1.63.
2. Bottom six struggles
The story was different for the other half of the lineup.
Glass, left wing Alex Tuch and Nicolas Roy had just one scoring chance at five-on-five together in 10:52. But they drew a combined four penalties to gift the Knights their power plays.
The fourth line of left wing William Carrier, center Tomas Nosek and right wing Ryan Reaves didn’t have a shot attempt together at five-on-five. They were on the ice for the Kings’ only five-on-five goal.
3. Tougher Glass
Glass worked all offseason to score a goal like his one Friday.
The center thought he was pushed around too easily as a rookie, so he added about 15 pounds of muscle while rehabbing a knee injury to compete for pucks better. That paid off against the Kings when he fought his way to a rebound on the power play to score his second goal.
“As tough as his injury was in the time off, I do think he benefited from it,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “To his credit, he used it to get bigger, stronger and faster. His goals have been all around those tough areas of the ice where you have to have those types of skills in order to go there.”