LA Kings Garret Sparks

Los Angeles Kings' Garret Sparks (80) receives a fist-bump from Alexander Edler (2) following their NHL hockey preseason game against the Vegas Golden Knights Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Another Frozen Fury is in the books as the LA Kings beat the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 from Salt Lake City, UT.

It was a fast start for the LA Kings on Thursday night as Brendan Lemieux got them on the board inside the two-minute mark and they would control the play all night.

Here are my three stars and three takeaways from the win:

*Phillip Danault
**Vladimir Tkachev
***Garret Sparks

1. Active D

Throughout the game, we saw the LA Kings’ defensemen either jumping into the play in the offensive zone, joining the rush through the neutral zone, or leading the rush up-ice. The more up-tempo, “aggressive” style of play is clearly intentional and it paid dividends tonight. The Kings dominated large chunks of this game because of it.

Most notably, the likes of Sean Walker, Matt Roy, Alex Edler each saw themselves deep into the offensive zone and even on the receiving end of passes in the neutral zone leading to controlled zone entries. This style of play should allow someone like Drew Doughty – who did not play on Thursday – to have some rope to go up and down the ice a bit more freely this season.

2. Duos Clicking

It’s still early and line combinations are by no means set, but the duos of Phillip Danualt /Alex Iafallo, Gabe Vilardi /Lias Andersson, and Vladimir Tkachev/any-King-that-doesn’t-have-the-puck were all clicking tonight.

Against Vegas, Danault and Iafallo played with Adrian Kempe. As a line, they were strong, but it was heavily driven by Danault and Iafallo, who, again, looked very comfortable together in all three zones. The two also spent time together on the penalty kill.

I will say, there was just a little something missing in terms of offensive creativity and scoring chances that I think can be solved by a certain Russian rejoining the duo.

I’m going to take this opportunity to mention how improved the 2C position is going to be with Danault. He’s as advertised so far as a great two-way center. He dictated the play when he was on the ice.

We saw a little bit from Vilardi and Andersson in the past in terms of some chemistry, they connected again last night on a very nice goal. Plays like these certainly aren’t going to make Rob Blake’s and Todd McLellan’s decisions any easier:

Tkachev has been talked about as a potential wild card all summer and he showed why. The 25-year-old is looking like a legitimate playmaking threat that is surely going to force his way into a lot of ice time with the Kings.

He was one of the best players on the ice, particularly in the second period where his subtle chip off the wall to Vilardi helped set up the Andersson goal (despite what the box score said). His distribution from the left circle on the power play was excellent. Here is his third period assist on the Arthur Kalyiev power-play goal.

3. Quinton Byfield Impresses

After an injury-shortened development camp and a fairly inconsistent Rookie Faceoff, Quinton Byfield really looked strong in this one. It wasn’t perfect, there were shifts where his line was caught in the defensive zone for too long, but he had a jump in his stride through the neutral zone and was confident with the puck in the offensive zone.

He made three very nice plays, using his great hands and vision to set up Kaliyev, Roy, and Rasmus Kupari for scoring chances at various points throughout the night. Part of what you want to see from a young player is him settling into his game, letting things around him slow down a bit, and being confident enough to try and make plays. He did that last night.

The Kings and Golden Knights are back at it tonight from Vegas at 7 pm.

Final: LA Kings 3, Golden Knights 1 Box Score, Notes, Highlights

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