Max Pacioretty had a hand in the first four goals scored by the Golden Knights in their preseason opener Sunday.
But that wasn’t his biggest contribution.
After linemate Cody Glass cross-checked Arizona’s Vinnie Hinostroza awkwardly into the boards in the first period, Pacioretty stepped in the middle of a potential scrum to protect the top prospect.
“He did that for me, too, so I can’t take the credit,” Pacioretty said with a laugh. “He is the future. He’s a tremendous talent.”
Pacioretty notched a hat trick as part of his four-point effort, and Cody Eakin chipped in with a goal and an assist in the Knights’ 6-2 victory before an announced crowd of 17,767 at T-Mobile Arena.
Here is what else we learned in the Knights’ victory:
1. Subban makes early debut
Dylan Ferguson was the winning goaltender for the Knights in their preseason opener each of the past two seasons, including a 7-2 victory over Arizona last season at T-Mobile Arena.
He was supposed to start Sunday but wasn’t feeling well, according to coach Gerard Gallant, and Malcolm Subban stepped in to make the start.
Subban got off to a shaky start in the first period, as Ilya Lyubushkin’s shot from the point trickled over the goal line four minutes in. Hinostroza then wired a shot from the high slot that beat Subban a little more than five minutes later.
But Subban settled down and finished with 29 saves, including a key stop on Jan Jenik’s wraparound in the second period to preserve the Knights’ one-goal lead.
Subban went 8-10-2 last season as Marc-Andre Fleury’s primary backup and battled inconsistency and injury. He will have to fight off challenges from Garret Sparks and Oscar Dansk this preseason.
“You try to get up to speed as quick as possible. It took a little longer than I hoped, I guess,” Subban said. “I think the biggest thing now is just bringing that to the start of next game and not letting myself start not as focused.”
2. Glass gets opportunity
Gallant put the 2017 first-round pick in position to succeed, skating him between Pacioretty and Reilly Smith.
Glass showed chemistry with Pacioretty in the preseason opener last season against Arizona when he recorded two assists and had his moments Sunday.
The 20-year-old appeared to be forcing plays in the first period, when he had two giveaways and took a minor penalty.
In the second period, Glass had the secondary assist on Pacioretty’s third goal. He finished with a plus-2 rating in 15:04 of ice time and went 10-5 on faceoffs.
Glass admitted he was frustrated with his lack of production during the Anaheim Rookie Faceoff last week, but looked more comfortable on a line with NHL players.
“He’s got the hockey sense you can’t teach,” Pacioretty said. “He looks like a man out there.”
3. Defensemen earn praise
Gallant did not want to single out any of the four rookie defensemen who played Sunday, but was generally pleased with their play.
Jake Bischoff finished with a plus-3 rating, while Dylan Coghlan continued to shine during training camp with an assist and a plus-2 rating in 19:44 of ice time. Zach Whitecloud was second on the team in ice time (20:09).
Also, Jimmy Schuldt thwarted a potential two-on-one break in the first period, but also was on the ice for both Coyotes goals.
Gallant and his staff shuffled the defensive pairings in the third period. Whitecloud joined Brayden McNabb, while Coghlan skated with Schuldt. Bischoff and Holden were the final pairing.
“I made a couple mistakes but that’s bound to happen,” Coghlan said. “I thought I had some good offensive chances and when you’re playing with good players chances are going to come.”
■ Sunday — Golden Knights 6, Arizona 2
■ Tuesday — at Colorado, 6 p.m.
■ Thursday — at Los Angeles, 7:30 p.m. (NHL Network)
■ Saturday — at San Jose, 5 p.m.
■ Sept. 25 — vs. Colorado, 7 p.m.
■ Sept. 27 — vs. Los Angeles, 7 p.m. (NHL Network)
■ Sept. 29 — vs. San Jose, 5 p.m. (NHL Network)
All games will be broadcast on KTNV Channel 13