In a performance worthy of his recent All-Star nomination, Kevin Fiala led the Los Angeles Kings past the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1 Saturday with his first Kings hat-trick.
Fiala opened the scoring with a seeing-eye shot that found its way through a maze of bodies and past Logan Thompson.
In the second period, the Kings grabbed two goals. Matt Roy scored his first career shorthanded goal after Thompson kicked out a big rebound off a Rasmus Kupari shot. Fiala then scored his second of the game, beating Thompson five-hole from the bottom of the left circle. The Kings' three goals through two periods chased Thompson out of the net, forcing Adin Hill to come in as relief.
The Kings continued their dominance in the third. Viktor Arvidsson extended their lead to four goals, depositing a rebound after a lucky bounce off his body. Jonathan Marchessault ended Pheonix Copley's shutout bid with 2:17 remaining. Fiala then restored the Kings' four-goal lead with an empty net goal that secured his hat-trick.
"Great feeling, good work from the whole team, it was a great team win," said Fiala on his first Kings' hat-trick. "It feels great, great job by the whole line, especially on that third one to get it to me. Great effort."
This game ended a three-game run that saw the Kings play only division leaders. They went 2-1 in this stretch, beating the Knights and Dallas Stars and losing to the Boston Bruins. A 2-1 run is the best you can hope for when facing that tough a stretch, so the Kings have to be happy with those results.
Ending it with Saturday's performance is gravy on top. They beat one of their biggest rivals and closed the gap atop the Pacific Division.
Saturday's performance highlights why the Kings paid a premium for Fiala over the summer, as they've missed a player who could take over games against the league's best in previous years. Fiala is the game-breaker Los Angeles has been missing for a while now.
Copley moves to 10-2 as he continues to be the savior in net. He finished with 19 saves and 0.76 goals saved above expected. Another performance where Copley didn't stand on his head and steal a game but played well enough for the Kings to win. His consistency and stability have done a lot for the Kings' confidence and his record reflects it.
"They're a good team and it's a game in our division so those are big games for us," said Copley on the win. "The guys played great all night, we’ve been playing really well defensively, cleaning up stuff, keeping things to the outside & we did that again tonight. Huge for us."
Gabriel Vilardi registered an assist on each of Fiala's three goals, giving him his second career three-point night.
"Right from the beginning I thought we were prepared to play the right way," said Todd McLellan on the victory. "Vegas presents a lot of different challenges and we were prepared and played the way we wanted to and the game plan we wanted to. And that's player one through 20 everybody contributed. A good team win."
The Kings' next game is back at home against the Edmonton Oilers Monday.