Other than one mishap in the first period, Gerard Gallant couldn’t have been happier with the Vegas Golden Knights’ start to their 2019-20 season Wednesday.
The Knights dominated their division nemesis, the San Jose Sharks, winning 4-1 at T- Mobile Arena in front of a regular-season record crowd of 18,588. But it was a muted celebration after defenseman Nate Schmidt injured his knee in a first-period collision with San Jose’s Logan Couture.
Schmidt and Couture made knee-to-knee contact and the Vegas defenseman got the worst of it. He needed to be helped off the ice and was taken to a local hospital for an MRI.
“I haven’t heard anything,” Gallant said when asked of Schmidt’s condition. “We’ll know more (Thursday).”
Schmidt missed the first 20 games of last season after the NHL suspended him for a violation of the league’s drug policy. Potentially, he could miss more time depending on the severity of the injury.
But the incident aside, it was truly a golden opener for the Knights. Rookie center Cody Glass made his NHL debut and scored on his first shot. Reilly Smith had a pair of goals and Mark Stone scored the first goal of the season.
“You dream of it as a kid and for it to happen like that, it’s a very special moment,” Glass, who was the first-ever amateur draft pick of Vegas, said of his first goal while playing with Stone at Max Pacioretty on Vegas’ second line. The trio combined for four points Wednesday.
Stone said Glass may be a rookie but he doesn’t play like one.
“He’s been in a lot of big games so he has a lot of poise,” Stone said. “We really didn’t say much to him on the bench. He went out and competed and he fit right in.”
The Sharks were without star defenseman Erik Karlsson, who left the team after the morning skate for personal reasons. The team was also without winger Evander Kane, who was suspended for three games by the NHL for abuse of an official during Sunday’s final preseason game against the Knights, a game which saw 114 minutes in penalties called.
Wednesday, there were just 16 minutes assessed as both teams settled down and stuck to hockey and tried to get the two valuable points to open the season.
“We played our game to a T tonight,” Gallant said of the Knights, who closed a -200 betting favorite at Station Casinos and Wynn. “We forechecked real hard and caused them a lot of trouble. I liked everything tonight.”
Well, almost everything.