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First Round

Stone, Stastny, Pacioretty behind Vegas-worthy encore for Golden Knights

Newcomers have combined for 22 points in first three games of series against Sharks

by Nicholas J. Cotsonika @cotsonika / Columnist

LAS VEGAS -- How do you follow the Vegas Golden Knights' inaugural season of 2017-18?

What do you do on Toshiba Plaza when you've had fans line up to get logo tattoos? What do you do inside T-Mobile Arena when you've set a new standard for pregame shows? What do you on the ice when the Golden Misfits made the Stanley Cup Final?

You add weddings and glow sticks and Paul Stastny and Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone.


[RELATED: Complete Sharks vs. Golden Knights series coverage]


The new forwards scored all the Vegas goals in a 6-3 win against the San Jose Sharks that gave the Golden Knights a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference First Round on Sunday, in the first Stanley Cup Playoff game at T-Mobile Arena since the Washington Capitals won the Cup in Game 5 of the Final on June 7.

Stone, acquired from the Ottawa Senators at the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 25, had the first hat trick of his NHL career plus two assists in Game 3. He leads the League in goals with six and is tied with Stastny for the lead in points with eight through three games.

Stastny, who signed as an unrestricted free agent July 1, had two goals and three assists in Game 3. He has two goals and six assists in three games.

Pacioretty, acquired in a trade from the Montreal Canadiens on Sept. 9, had a goal and an assist in Game 3. He has six points (two goals, four assists) in three games.

Video: SJS@VGK, Gm3: Stone tallies hat trick in Game 3

No one else on the Vegas roster has more than four points.

"They were incredible tonight," defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "They're a special group of guys that can make plays all over the ice, out of our zone, into the offensive zone. It was just fun, fun to watch, fun to watch those guys do what they do best."

Game 4 of the best-of-7 series is at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVAS2, ATTSN-RM, NBCSCA).

"I don't want to jinx it," Pacioretty said. "But it's been a lot of fun."

When Pacioretty was Montreal captain a year ago, he knew what time Vegas games appeared on television because his kids loved to watch the pregame show. It was must-see TV.

The Golden Knights combined new things with the old this year. Fans in jerseys renewed their vows amid the party outside, a Vegas touch they hadn't tried before. The music cranked up in warmups, as usual.

"It was pumping," Stastny said. "It was fun. I think at one time at warmups, it was really loud. I was looking at all the kids there in the corner, and they all had their earplugs in."

Video: SJS@VGK, Gm3: Golden Knights score early three times

Fans waved glow sticks as the Golden Knight speared a shark in the pregame show.

"I can't wait to hear about the show before, because we don't see it when we're in here," Pacioretty said. "But they always come up with the good stuff, the innovative stuff to get the crowd into it, and they definitely didn't fail tonight."

How does Pacioretty know they didn't fail when he couldn't see the show? Because he could feel the noise when he skated out of the huge glowing golden helmet at game time, which here they call Knight Time.

"How can you not be in the zone when you come out of the tunnel and we have that support?" Pacioretty said. "No building in the League like this. … In the playoffs, it's just a whole other world. It's not just at the rink. It's around the community and stuff. The support that we get is unlike any other in the National Hockey League and it really gets us going, and tonight was an example."

The Golden Knights jumped on the Sharks at the start of each period, Stone scoring 16 seconds into the first, Stastny scoring 21 seconds into the second, and Stone scoring 36 seconds into the third. They built a 5-1 lead.

When the Sharks scored two quick goals to cut it to 5-3, the fans stayed loud. And when Stone capped the night with his hat trick, so many hats rained down from the stands that the ice crew took several minutes to clean them up.

Video: SJS@VGK, Gm3: Pacioretty wires home wrister for PPG

You could see the emotion on Stone's face when he celebrated the goal and kept firing up the fans when he took a victory lap as First Star.

"I'm an emotional player," Stone said. "This is the best time of year. I love playing these games; I think we all do. I think if you look from top to bottom in this organization, this is the time that we want to be playing our best. We're just so excited to be able to call this home for our team."

Last season was special for so many reasons. The players who left, starting with forwards James Neal and David Perron, will never be forgotten. Forward Erik Haula, who is out with a knee injury, is missed.

But this season can be special in its own way. The new guys can help write a new chapter.


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