Ahead of the 2020 trade deadline, the Vegas Golden Knights made a move to solidify the blueline by acquiring defenseman Alec Martinez from the Los Angeles Kings.
Vegas knew it was bringing in an all-around defenseman who could be relied upon during big moments. What the team didn't know was that Martinez would burst onto the Vegas strip with authority.
Video: TBL@VGK: Martinez nets first goal with Golden Knights
Analysis from VGK Rinkside Reporter Stormy Buonantony
What a special (K)night. For the first time in more than a decade defenseman Alec Martinez was wearing a different sweater.
He was playing a game in his new home without yet knowing where he would live. He was sharing a bench with players he had only ever been at odds with. He was nervous, excited and emotional, but ready to help his new team win.
There were a number of standout moments for Martinez in his VGK debut, but none more memorable than the goal above. Vegas was trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 late in the first period.
Keep in mind, this is a Lightning team that at the time was riding an NHL-best 11-game win streak, and not a group you want to trail for long. With just over two minutes left in the frame, Nic Roy sent a feed to Cody Eakin at the top of the slot for a one-time bid. Martinez read the situation, pinched down through the left circle and as Andrei Vasilevskiy made his move to kick Eakin's shot out of danger, it landed right on Martinez's stick. Martinez wasted no time slapping the rebound through the pads of Vasilevskiy and into the net to tie the game before intermission.
Through 41 games this season with the LA Kings, Martinez had just one tally (that coincidentally was also in T-Mobile Arena), but in one period after being traded to his new club matched that output.
He finished the game with a goal, an assist, a plus-3 rating, a team-high 20:10 of ice time, and a win in his new home arena. It was picture perfect... well... almost.
"I just wish I didn't toe pick the celebration," joked Martinez after the game, "I ate it pretty good."
YUP! For a player whose name is synonymous with "Jazz hands" for his famous Stanley Cup-winning goal celly in 2014, Martinez gave his highlight-reel goal a blooper-reel reaction. Mid-celly he caught his toe pick at the goal line and defied gravity like a flying squirrel in the wind before crashing into the boards.
Nothing, however, could wipe the smile off his face as he rose to his feet-and I would argue it made his teammates and all of us grin even wider.