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Lightning journal: When it comes to pregame pageantry, Vegas is the new Montreal

The Golden Knights and their fans celebrate after defenseman Shea Theodore (27) scores against the Lightning. (Associated Press)
The Golden Knights and their fans celebrate after defenseman Shea Theodore (27) scores against the Lightning. (Associated Press)
Published Oct. 27, 2018
Updated Oct. 27, 2018

LAS VEGAS — When you think of hockey and cool atmosphere, you think Montreal. You think Toronto. You think Detroit, aka "HockeyTown.''

And, of course, Las Vegas.

Wait, what?

The Golden Knights are in just their second season, but already Vegas has a reputation for being one of the coolest places in the game because of the show put on inside T-Mobile Arena. That show includes heart-pumping music and a dizzying light show. The attack on the senses inside matches the overwhelming scene outside along the Vegas strip.

"Rarely do I ever go out to watch a pregame,'' Lightning coach Jon Cooper said before Friday's 3-2 win against the Golden Knights. "But this is one place I go out to watch the atmosphere. It's special. … It truly is one of the special places in the NHL.''

Only one place in the league might be more stimulating, and that's Montreal.

"Montreal, I consider that the top of the heap for incredible atmospheres,'' Cooper said. "But (the Canadiens) have been around for 100-plus years. Vegas has been around one. It has created something really unique.''

Sophomore slump

One thing that helps Vegas have such a great atmosphere is having a great team. The Golden Knights had a magical run in their inaugural season, getting to the Stanley Cup final, where they fell to the Capitals. This year, however, Vegas is off to a sluggish start at 4-5-1.

But Cooper said a pretty good argument could be made that the Golden Knights easily could have been 8-1 entering Friday's game.

"Are they a playoff team?'' Cooper said. "No question.''

The long and winding road

This marathon trip continues for the Lightning. But, as Cooper said, "you can see light at the end.''

Its longest trip of the season in terms of days (nine) finally comes to an end Saturday in Arizona. The team will fly home Sunday after leaving Tampa on Oct. 19. The five-game trip also has included stops in Minnesota, Chicago and Colorado.

And though the Lightning said before leaving that it was looking forward to getting on the road for a little team bonding, there did come a time in the past day or so that the trip started to feel long.

Cooper said he is glad the Lightning is getting this trip out of the way early in the season but also mentioned Tampa Bay will be home for only four days before heading out again for a two-game trip to Canada.

Bolts bits

Andrei Vasilevskiy started in goal Friday, so look for Louis Domingue to start Saturday in Arizona against his former team. … Former Lightning D Andrej Sustr was placed on waivers Friday by the Ducks. Sustr signed a one-year deal with Anaheim after playing parts of six seasons with Tampa Bay. The Ducks hope Sustr clears so he can be sent to the minors. … Former NHL president John Ziegler, who died Thursday at 84, led the league from 1977-92, a tenure during which Tampa Bay was granted the Lightning franchise.