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Golden Knights make history with win against Coyotes

Score four goals in opening 10:42 of home opener, become first expansion team to start 3-0-0

by Danny Webster / NHL.com Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- Vegas Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant kept the pregame pep talk to a minimum.

Once the emotional ceremony prior to their inaugural home opener ended, it was on to hockey, and Vegas came out on fire.

The Golden Knights scored four goals in the opening 10:42 and defeated the Arizona Coyotes 5-2 at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, becoming the first NHL expansion team to start 3-0-0.

 

[WATCH: All Coyotes vs. Golden Knights highlights | RELATED: Celebration of heroes, hockey helps Las Vegas heal after tragedy | Engelland assures crowd 'We are Vegas Strong' in powerful speech]

 

"The script was perfect," Gallant said. "The way everything went down today was brilliant."

For the 31st NHL team, this wasn't a typical home opener. After 58 people were killed and hundreds more injured by a lone gunman at the Route 91 Harvest Festival of country music Oct. 1, the Golden Knights honored the victims and first responders before the game.

Tomas Nosek scored the first home goal in Golden Knights history 2:31 into the first period to give them a 1-0 lead.

After defenseman Deryk Engelland made it 2-0 at 4:18 of the first period, James Neal scored at 6:15 and 10:42 to increase the lead to 4-0.

Video: Golden Knights erupt for four early goals

Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet pulled goalie Antti Raanta and replaced him with Louis Domingue after Neal's first goal. Raanta made two saves on five shots.

Neal's second goal was the first on the power play in Golden Knights history. They were 0-for-12, including 0-for-4 in a 2-1 overtime victory Saturday in the first game of the home-and-home against the Coyotes (0-2-1).

"I'm just trying to find those good areas," said Neal, who has five goals. "It helps playing with really good players."

Neal missed all of the preseason because of a broken hand sustained in Game 1 of the Western Conference Final while playing for the Nashville Predators against the Anaheim Ducks on May 12. He wasn't sure he was going to play in the season opener at the Dallas Stars last Friday (a 2-1 win) or at Arizona on Saturday, but he was adamant about playing in the home opener.

Video: Survivors of the tragedy in Vegas drop puck

"I was working for this game to be a part of this," he said. "This day, playing at T-Mobile with my teammates, to have the two games to get ready for tonight was awesome. Proud of the way our group played tonight."

Neal's first goal was the game-winner. He's scored the winning goal in each of the Golden Knights' first three games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Neal is the second player in the NHL expansion era (since 1967-68) to score the winning goal in each of his team's first three games. The first was forward Brian Propp, who did it with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1982-83.

Neal also joins Real Cloutier of the 1979-80 Quebec Nordiques as the only expansion era players to score five goals in the first three games with a team in its first NHL season. He's also the fourth player in the expansion era to score in each of his team's first three games. The last to do it was Billy Harris with the 1972-73 New York Islanders.

Arizona forward Tobias Rieder scored to make it 4-1 at 12:37 of the first.

Oscar Lindberg scored with 2:38 left in the second period to give Vegas a 5-1 lead.

Kevin Connauton made it 5-2 when he scored at 14:14 of the third period.

Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves for the Golden Knights. He has started all three games, making 103 saves on 107 shots (.963 save percentage).

Video: Golden Knights hold 58-second moment of silence

Domingue had 21 saves on 23 shots.

Tocchet said he didn't feel some Coyotes matched the intensity of the Golden Knights.

"That's the one thing that disappointed me, that the effort by five or six guys at some points in the game wasn't there," he said. "Vegas deserved to win the game. It was a great program before the game. The organization did a nice job."

The 1967-68 California Seals and Los Angeles Kings were the only expansion teams in League history to win their first two games.

Video: Golden Knights join first responders on ice

 
Goal of the game

Engelland, a longtime Las Vegas resident, scored on a one-timer off a pass from forward Brendan Leipsic. Engelland had 22 goals in 471 NHL games entering Tuesday.

Video: ARI@VGK: Engelland hammers one-timer past Raanta

 

Save of the game

Fleury made a glove save on a Derek Stepan wrist shot with 2:27 remaining in the first period.

Video: ARI@VGK: Fleury flashes the leather on Stepan

 

Highlight of the game

Leipsic carried the puck into the Coyotes zone and skated from the right face-off dot to the top of the left circle before sending a backhand pass across to Lindberg for a snap shot from the bottom of the right circle that beat Domingue.

Video: ARI@VGK: Lindberg buries Leipsic's terrific feed

 

They said it

"it's a team thing. I've got to take responsibility. I don't know if we're in shape, to be honest with you, and I'll take full responsibility. So we're going to have to get back to the grindstone here." -- Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet

"I think every guy in this room did a great job of channeling that energy and emotion from the (pregame) ceremony and using it to their advantage." -- Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland

Video: Engelland gives rousing speech to hometown fans

 

Need to know

Neal had five game-winning goals in 70 games for the Predators last season. … Coyotes forward Brendan Perlini left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.

 

What's next

Coyotes: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; FS-A, FS-D, NHL.TV)

Golden Knights: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Friday (10:30 p.m. ET, ATTSN-RM, FS-D, NHL.TV)

 

Video: Neal scores twice in Golden Knights' home-opening win

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