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Golden Knights report: Rookie debuts on Hockey Fights Cancer night

Golden Knights vs. Blue Jackets

Knights win 3-2

RJ’s three stars

3. Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins — It’s only fitting an Elvis puts on a good show in Las Vegas. He stopped 32 shots in his second game at T-Mobile Arena. He had a 27-save shutout in his first Jan. 11, 2020.

2. Knights right wing Reilly Smith — He scored his second short-handed goal of the season and ninth of his career to tie the game 2-2 in the third period. He has five goals in his past six games.

1. Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar — The second-year forward scored his first goal and added an assist against the team that drafted him. The Blue Jackets took Kolesar in the third round in 2015, but traded him to the Knights in 2017.

Key play

The Knights’ penalty kill after Kolesar tripped Columbus defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov 4:20 into the third.

They forced turnovers high in the defensive zone and got more scoring chances than the Blue Jackets. Smith scored, center Chandler Stephenson had a breakaway, and Kolesar fired the puck on net after jumping out of the penalty box.

The Knights have five power-play goals and two short-handed goals.

Key stat

5-1 — The Knights’ record on their six-game homestand.

They outscored their opponents 24-16 during the stretch and moved into a playoff spot.

Jones debuts

Left wing Ben Jones on Saturday became the sixth Knights player to make his NHL debut this season, after left wings Pavel Dorofeyev and Paul Cotter, center Jake Leschyshyn, right wing Jonas Rondbjerg and defenseman Daniil Miromanov.

Jones was a seventh-round pick in 2017. The 22-year-old’s parents and sister attended the game. Jones said his parents are British and “don’t really know a whole lot about hockey,” but he credited their support for helping him reach the NHL.

“Growing up, I had really big ears, so they joked that they wanted to put me in a helmet to try and pin them back,” said Jones, who was born in Waterloo, Ontario. “I think that was just the Canadian thing to do.”

Hockey Fights Cancer

The Knights held their annual Hockey Fights Cancer night and wore special lavender jerseys for warmups that were auctioned off.

The proceeds were given to the Vegas Golden Knights Foundation. A portion will be donated in support of early detection in the name of Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer after a training camp physical. Viveiros, expected to take a leave of absence in December for surgery, said Friday he was grateful to the organization for its support and giving him time to assess treatment options.

“It means everything to me,” Viveiros said. “Not only the organization, but our teammates, our coaching staff and, more importantly, my family here, I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful support group.”

Knights’ next 10

At St. Louis, 5 p.m. Monday

At Nashville, 5 p.m. Wednesday

Vs. Edmonton, 4 p.m. Saturday

At Anaheim, 7 p.m. Dec. 1

At Arizona, 6:30 p.m. Dec. 3

Vs. Calgary, 7 p.m. Dec. 5

Vs. Dallas, 7 p.m. Dec. 8

Vs. Philadelphia, 7 p.m. Dec. 10

Vs. Minnesota, 6 p.m. Dec. 12

At Boston, 4 p.m. Dec. 14

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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