Golden Knights’ Max Pacioretty scores hat trick in preseason opening game

Vegas Golden Knights forward Max Pacioretty seems ready for the NHL season to start.

The 12-year NHL veteran scored a hat trick in the first exhibition game on the league’s calendar Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes.

“No, it doesn’t count for anything,” Pacioretty told reporters when asked if it means just as much in a preseason game as the regular season or playoffs.

“But the scrimmages have been good, tonight was good,” Pacioretty said. “The intensity has been there from the group right from day one. You can tell that we have a huge chip on our shoulder from the way things ended last year and it’s carried into camp. You gotta be happy with the intensity so far.”

Goal No. 1 

In the first period, Pacioretty snapped a wrist shot past Coyotes goalie Adin Hill on a breakaway to tie the game at 1-1.

Goal No. 2 

Pacioretty entered the offensive zone with the puck and briefly lost it as he tried to skirt around an Arizona backchecker, but poor puck management by the Coyotes — and a lucky bounce — put it right back on No. 67’s stick in prime shooting position. Pacioretty tied the game up again, this time at 2-2 with just under eight minutes remaining in the period.

Goal No. 3 

Right place, right time. Vegas already held a 3-2 lead late in the second period when Golden Knights rookie Cody Glass passed the puck to another youngster, Dylan Coughlan, who had streaked in from the neutral zone.

Hill made the save on Coughlan’s shot with his right pad, but Pacioretty had followed the play to the net. He picked up the rebound on his backhand, turned the puck to his forehand and put it past Hill, who could not recover in time to stop the puck.

The 30-year-old left wing said Glass, who played on his line along with Reilly Smith, seemed an improved player from last training camp after bulking up in the offseason.

“[Glass is] just such a poised player it doesn’t matter how much he weighs or how strong he is,” Pacioretty added. “He’s got that hockey sense that you can’t teach. He looks like a man out there right now and you gotta be happy with the strides that he’s made even though he was already such a high-level player.”

Pacioretty, who also picked up an assist in the game on Cody Eakin’s second-period goal, scored 22 times and had 40 points last season during his first year with Vegas.

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