Stephenson scores twice, Vegas tops Kings 4-3

NHL Hockey

LAS VEGAS (AP)Chandler Stephenson scored twice, including the winner early in the third period, and the Vegas Golden Knights beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 on Sunday.

The Golden Knights improved to 7-1-1 and moved into a first-place tie with St. Louis and Colorado in the West Division. The Blues and Avalanche were scheduled to play Sunday but were postponed with Colorado shut down due to COVID-19 protocols.

Vegas, which completed a two-game sweep of the Kings after a 5-2 win on Friday, overcame two one-goal deficits in the first period.

”Beating any team in this league twice is going to be tough,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. ”You see that when you look around the league. There’s no doubt we made it tougher on ourselves tonight. You’ve got to win all kinds of different ways in your season. The bottom line is we’re winning in a league that’s hard to do.”

Stephenson gave Vegas its first lead early in the third period with his second goal of the game, the Golden Knights’ fifth power-play goal of the season. Taking a pass from Alex Tuch in the neutral zone, Stephenson raced into the zone and tried to return the puck but had his pass from the side of the goal carom off Petersen’s stick and through his legs to make it 4-3.

Reilly Smith and Zach Whitecloud also scored for Vegas. Robin Lehner overcame a wild first period and made 29 saves, including all 11 he faced on four penalty kills.

Anze Kopitar, Adrian Kempe and Jaret Anderson-Dolan scored for Los Angeles, and Calvin Petersen made 29 saves.

The teams scored five goals in the first period with Vegas taking a 3-2 lead into the locker room after one.

Los Angeles scored on its first two shots of the game – the first time that’s happened to Vegas since it entered the league in 2017. Kopitar gave Los Angeles an early lead when he took a cross-ice pass from Alex Iafallo and beat Lehner far side just 36 seconds in. Later it was Kempe giving the Kings a 2-1 lead with a wrist shot that sneaked between Lehner’s elbow and the post a little more than a minute after Smith tied it.

”I thought we did a much better job than in games prior,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. ”I thought we created a lot of good looks, kept plays alive in the offensive zone. Offensively, I thought we improved as a team tonight.”

But not enough to overcome a Knights team that had 10 players register at least one point – nine in the first period.

Whitecloud scored the third goal of his career – his first in the regular season – when he skated down the backside, gathered Cody Glass’ pass through traffic and sniped Petersen under his blocker.

Vegas capped the first-period scoring when captain Mark Stone dished a no-look pass off the boards between two Kings defenders to Stephenson, who streaked into the zone and fired a wrist shot over Petersen’s glove.

Anderson-Dolan scored the first goal of his NHL career midway through the second period when he fired a one-timer off Lehner’s left shoulder.

”It’s good to get the first one out of the way and now I can just kind of play my game and not have to worry about that,” Anderson-Dolan said. ”But we’re trying to win hockey games here and didn’t get that done tonight, so that’s a little bit disappointing.”

FIRST THINGS FIRST

The Kings have been outscored 17-6 in the first period this season. Sunday marked the ninth time in 11 games Los Angeles has allowed at least three goals in the opening stanza.

KILLIN’ IT

Vegas, which came in with the league’s 11th-best penalty kill, stopped the Kings on all four of their power-play opportunities.

WHAT’S NEXT?

Los Angeles opens a four-game homestand with the first of two against San Jose on Tuesday.

Vegas opens a two-game home series against Anaheim on Tuesday.

More AP NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

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