PHT’s Three Stars: Golden Game 1 for Vegas

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1st Star: Reilly Smith, Vegas Golden Knights

Yes, Vegas enjoyed better contributions from its supporting scorers in Game 1 (see the second star), but the top line of Smith, Jonathan Marchessault, and William Karlsson still flexed their muscles to help the Golden Knights beat the Washington Capitals 6-4.

Smith was credited with the primary assist on Karlsson’s 2-2 goal, which was crucial as the Capitals generated two goals during a 42-second span and could have conceivably introduced some doubt into Vegas’ mind if that lead persisted into the first intermission. Instead, it was tied up with less than two minutes remaining in the opening frame.

After that, Smith gave the Golden Knights a brief 3-2 lead by beating Braden Holtby on a top-corner finish.

The beauty of this Game 1 win is that there were multiple Golden Knights conceivably in the running here. Do note that, while most of the goals weren’t their fault, neither goalie came close to making the top three.

2nd Star: Tomas Nosek, Golden Knights

Allow this spot to also serve as Deryk Engelland‘s mention, as the defenseman nabbed two assists (one primary, one secondary) while firing five shots on goal and logging 20:50 TOI. His transformation from borderline enforcer to legitimate NHL defenseman remains stunning.

Nosek gets the nod, however, because he scored two goals; he isn’t the first star because his second tally was shorthanded. He generated a +3 rating despite a scant 12:22 TOI.

(So maybe Engelland does deserve that spot? Let’s just cheat here. Don’t tell anyone.)

3rd Star: T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals

While Nosek scored on an empty net for his second goal, Shea Theodore also deserves the credit for that game-winner.

In honor of the night’s best passers, let’s consider Oshie. He generated two assists, including a ludicrous helper that allowed John Carlson to score on a near-empty net. If not for Theodore, it would have been the best assist of a Game 1 that was full of beautiful passes.

Oshie also generated the primary assist on Nicklas Backstrom‘s 2-1 goal, so it was quite a night for a guy who’s proven to be more than just That Fellow Who Scored A Bunch of Olympic Shootout Goals in 2014.

Highlight of the Night

Theodore to Nosek for the game-winner and breath-taker:

If you’re into rougher stuff, this post touches on the Tom Wilson and Ryan Reaves dramas.

Factoid of the Night

Want to point to one Vegas Golden Knights stat that’s truly unsustainable? Move over, Marc-Andre Fleury‘s save percentage (playoffs and regular season) and William Karlsson’s regular-season shooting percentage:

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.