Smith nets 2, Glass scores in debut as Vegas tops Sharks 4-1

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Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Jon Merrill, left, congratulates center Cody Glass after he scored against the San Jose Sharks during the second period of an NHL hockey game Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Golden Knights rookie Cody Glass couldn’t seem to do anything right on the day of his NHL debut.

He broke a sliding door in the locker room of the team’s practice facility, couldn’t fall asleep while attempting to take a pregame nap _ and his nerves continued to get the best of him.

Then he stepped onto the ice.

Glass, the club’s first draft selection when he was picked sixth overall in 2017, scored the first goal of his career to help Vegas beat the San Jose Sharks 4-1 Wednesday night in the season opener for both teams.

“It’s nerve-wracking, especially with all those fans,” said Glass, who centered a line that included veteran wings Mark Stone and Max Pacioretty. “It’s something that I just took a deep breath and kind of tried to forget about. They (the jitters) went away. As a hockey player you take that first shift, kind of take it all in. Try and not do too much and then after that get more comfortable.

“Playing with two special players like that, it’s incredible. I’ve been watching those guys for a while growing up. To have the chance to play on a line with them is unbelievable. Obviously they had really good games today and hopefully moving forward it’s the exact same.”

Pacioretty assisted on Glass’ goal, Stone had a goal and assist, and Reilly Smith added two goals for the Golden Knights, who improved their regular-season record at T-Mobile Arena to 54-22-7.

Sitting amongst the regular season-record crowd of 18,588 at T-Mobile Arena was Glass’ father Jeff and brother Matt, making the night even more special.

“They’ve been through it all with me, through the tough times and the good,” Glass said. “It’s incredible to have them here. I know they’re very happy for me and I can’t wait to share this moment with them. It’s a special day, but I don’t want to be a one-game player. I want to be an 82-game player.”

Marc-Andre Fleury, who was 2-1-0 with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .948 save percentage in the preseason, made 21 saves to earn the win in the 799th game of his career.

Fleury, now in his 16th season, improved to 10-5-0 in openers. The victory tied him with Curtis Joseph (10-2-0) and Martin Brodeur (10-5-3) for the most season-opening wins in NHL history.

Vegas, which will play in San Jose on Friday, improved to 6-1-2 all-time against the Sharks in the regular season. But it was San Jose that ousted Vegas in a highly controversial Game 7 during last season’s first round of the playoffs.

“It’s nice to get that first win at home, especially against these guys,” Fleury said. “Our crowd again was awesome; it was loud in there. I think our team played an awesome game from start to finish and I didn’t have to do too much back there.”

Marcus Sorensen scored for San Jose, which played with a contingent of newcomers after forward Evander Kane was handed a three-game suspension Tuesday, and All-Star defenseman Erik Karlsson was ruled out for a personal matter just before puck drop.

Martin Jones, who tied for third in the league with 36 wins last season, made 31 saves.

“It’s hard,” San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said. “We have a lot of young players that we’re asking to come into this environment against a veteran, battle-hardened team with revenge on their minds. It was a big ask. The result was just and deserved. Hopefully we’ll learn some lessons and get better from it.”

Stone opened the scoring when he snapped a wrist shot past Jones on the power play. Less than two minutes later it was Smith with a one-timer from William Karlsson at the doorstep to make it 2-0. It was Karlsson’s 100th career assist.

Sorensen cut the lead in the half later in the period when he rifled a wrist shot just over the top of Fleury’s glove.

Glass extended Vegas’ lead to 3-1 with his goal, and Smith provided the final margin with a short-handed goal, his second of the game.

NOTES: Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt left midway through the first period and did not return with what appeared to be a knee injury. Logan Couture came in hard from the left and slammed the front of his knee into the side of Schmidt’s knee, which buckled and dropped him. … One day after rookies Nicolas Hague and Nicolas Roy were assigned to the Chicago Wolves, the Golden Knights recalled both prior to Wednesday’s game. Both were healthy scratches along with fellow rookie Jimmy Schuldt. … Kevin Labanc went down after taking a cross-check from Tomas Nosek in the third period and was helped to the locker room. … Sharks forward Joe Thornton is one of just two players on season-opening rosters who skated in an NHL game during the 1990s. The other is Boston’s Zdeno Chara. … Sharks defenseman Brent Burns played in his 472nd consecutive game, an iron-man streak that began on Nov. 21, 2013. Burns remains two goals shy of 200.

UP NEXT

Sharks: Host Vegas on Friday night.

Golden Knights: At San Jose on Friday night.

___

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