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Golden Knights vs Nashville Predators

Wade Vandervort

Vegas Golden Knights center Chandler Stephenson (20) and Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrate after Stone scored against the Nashville Predators during the second period of an NHL hockey game at T-Mobile Arena Monday, Jan. 15, 2024.

Updated 1 hour, 49 minutes ago

Sometimes, analysis isn’t so complex.

For example, what did you think about your captain tonight, Bruce Cassidy?

“Yeah, he’s pretty good,” said the Golden Knights’ coach.

Indeed, Mark Stone was good.

Stone recorded the first regular-season hat trick of his career, the third as a member of the Golden Knights, for a 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators at T-Mobile Arena on Monday.

It’s not the first time Stone has been the cause of hats raining down on the Strip. The latest was June 13, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, securing the first hat trick in a Cup-clinching game since 1928. He also did it in Game 3 of the 2019 first round against San Jose.

Of course, Stone has had bigger three-goal games. But with the Golden Knights in need of offense with a plethora of injuries to front-line players, the captain took it upon himself to provide the spark.

“I’m not going to be Jack Eichel. Whoever is not going to be Shea Theodore,” Stone said. “You’ve just got to be the best version of yourself.”

Stone did just that, while ending a seven-game goal drought for himself in the process. The goals brought Stone back to a point-per-game pace (15 goals, 29 assists) in 44 games.

Jonathan Marchessault ended a nine-game goal drought, and Stone’s linemates Chandler Stephenson and Pavel Dorofeyev had two assists each to push the Golden Knights (25-14-5) to just their fourth win in eight games. Logan Thompson made 34 saves for his fourth consecutive quality start; he’s allowed nine goals in his last four appearances.

The injuries are just one of the obstacles the Golden Knights are facing, but it is a steep hurdle. Vegas continues trekking forward without Jack Eichel, William Karlsson and Shea Theodore, to name a few, while trying to remain competitive.

Stone said he’s not trying to take on more of a scoring load in everyone’s absence. It just means everyone has to play a little bit better of themselves, he said.

“We’ve had different guys step up at different times, for sure,” Stone said. “I was just fortunate to be in shooting spots tonight.”

It took a while for the Golden Knights to get in those spots.

The Predators opened the game with a 7-0 edge in shots through the first 15 minutes. Vegas had trouble getting through the neutral zone thanks to the size of Nashville’s defense.

But Cassidy said he didn’t feel like the Golden Knights were chasing the game. It wasn’t compared to the Dec. 23 game in Florida when they were outshot 20-3 in the first period and lived in the defensive zone.

He credited the Golden Knights’ defensemen for keeping Nashville to the outside and not letting them get dangerous looks on Thompson. They finally broke through at 15:25 when Stone scored his first on Nashville goalie Juuse Saros, off a rebound from the low slot to give Vegas a 1-0 lead.

“That’s a tough one for a goalie,” Cassidy said. “I know there’s a rebound, but he hadn’t seen much, and all of a sudden now he’s got a guy right in front of him, point blank.”

Stone made it 2-0 at 1:11 of the second period when he got behind the defense, received a pass from Stephenson as he was going to the ground, and beat Saros glove side.

After Luke Evangelista cut the lead in half at 17:22, Stone completed the hat trick with 24 seconds left in the second with a 4-on-4 goal above the right dot to make it 3-1.

That goal was important in Stone’s eyes because of what it accomplished. Not only did it restore a two-goal lead, but because Brayden McNabb drew a penalty to kill a Nashville power play late in the period.

Vegas’ penalty kill, which killed just 58.6% of penalties in an eight-game stretch between from Dec. 17 – Jan. 4 (17 of 29), has killed 80% in its last five (12 of 15).

“Our penalty kill really stepped up for us,” Stone said. “Got us some momentum.”

It’s nowhere near a fix, but the Golden Knights have found a way to string some wins together in the last six games. They’re 3-3-0 in this stretch where seven of eight games were at home, with two more remaining before a four-game east-coast road trip.

Cassidy said as they continue, the Golden Knights will need to win more of these low-scoring games to combat the fact that scoring will come from an unknown place at the moment.

Monday just happened to be the captain’s night.

“We need a game like that every once in a while, especially lately, where maybe an individual goes above and beyond, whether it’s a goaltender who was very good also, one player, a line. It was good timing for us,” Cassidy said. “(Stone) wasn’t predictable. He was taking what was there. Good for him.”

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on X at

Article written by #LasVegasSun