Updated December 28, 2021 - 11:52 pm
LOS ANGELES — Seeing as the Golden Knights were playing their first game since Dec. 21 and coming off the holiday break, they can be excused for not being sharp.
But the good far outweighed the bad Tuesday night, and the Knights returned to action with a 6-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings at Crypto.com Arena. ‘
“The first maybe eight, 10 minutes was sloppy by both clubs,” assistant coach Steve Spott said. “Once we got through the first half of the first period we were able to establish our game and obviously carry it through.”
Jonathan Marchessault scored twice and added an assist to help the short-handed Knights win for the ninth time in their past 11 games and move into the top spot in the Western Conference with 42 points.
Marchessault put home a rebound for a 3-1 lead at the end of a turbo-charged portion of the first period when the teams combined for four goals. He added his team-best 16th goal early in the third period.
Chandler Stephenson and Mattias Janmark scored early in the second period to put the Knights ahead 5-1 and chase Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Stephenson and Reilly Smith each finished with two points.
Goalie Laurent Brossoit made his second straight start in place of Robin Lehner and had two key saves late in the second period on a Los Angeles power play to keep the Kings from climbing back into the game.
“That’s the biggest thing we wanted to do is simplify and just kind of get the legs under you, get the rust off,” Stephenson said. “Obviously a good win, good two points coming out of the break.”
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Stone goes on IR
The Knights aren’t scheduled to return to Los Angeles during the regular season, and it’s probably a good thing considering all the injuries that seem to follow them to Southern California.
Captain Mark Stone (undisclosed) and Lehner (lower body) were scratched with injuries, and both are listed as day to day, according to Spott.
Stone, who left in the second period of a loss to Tampa Bay on Dec. 21, was placed on injured reserve before the game, according to the NHL media website. He also was hurt during the Knights’ last visit to the arena formerly known as Staples Center in October and missed a month.
Lehner has been out since he was injured against the New York Islanders on Dec. 19 and hasn’t practiced since. Logan Thompson served as the backup against the Kings.
The Knights already were without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Brett Howden, and coach Pete DeBoer because of COVID-19 protocol.
Winger Max Pacioretty and defenseman Nic Hague were in the lineup after being listed as game-time decisions.
2. Stirring sequence
There wasn’t much action for 18:44 of the first period, but the other 1:16 more than made up for it.
The teams combined for four goals in a heart-pumping stretch that saw the Knights emerge with a 3-1 lead.
“That was pretty crazy,” defenseman Ben Hutton said.
Smith and Keegan Kolesar scored on deflections 26 seconds apart before Kings forward Adrian Kempe tracked down a long pass off the end boards and beat Brossoit to cut the Knights’ lead to 2-1.
Marchessault capped the scoring flurry at 11:09 when he put home a rebound after William Karlsson hit the post.
The only time the Knights scored three goals faster was Jan. 30, 2018, against Calgary when they took 53 seconds.
It was the 24th instance in NHL history of teams combining for four goals in a span of 76 seconds or fewer, according to NHL public relations. Montreal and Pittsburgh needed 64 seconds to pull off the feat Nov. 27.
“We have to play to our identity, and part of that identity is playing fast in the offensive zone and getting pucks and bodies to the net,” Spott said. “Thankfully we were able to find a few goals that way.”
3. Power trip
The power play remained hot — no, that’s not a misprint — and finished 2-for-4 with goals by Smith and Stephenson.
It was the third straight game the Knights scored with the man advantage and the seventh in the past eight.
Since Dec. 10, the Knights are 9-for-23 (39.1 percent) on the power play, which ranks third in the league.
“Obviously early in the year it wasn’t what we wanted,” Stephenson said. “The guys that are on both units just have that confidence and that swagger. It’s been rolling, so hopefully we can keep it going and don’t look back.”