In their home opener, the Las Vegas Desert Dogs did not overcome a scoreless first quarter and lost 9-3 to Panther City on Friday night at Michelob Ultra Arena in front of an announced crowd of 7,072.
Trailing 4-1 at halftime, the Desert Dogs (0-2) came out firing with four shots on goal in the first five minutes of the second half, and it paid off when forward Zack Greer found the back of the net off a pass from forward Rob Hellyer during a power play.
Shortly after, Greer had another prime scoring opportunity in front of the net. But when his shot missed, forward Charlie Bertrand put in the rebound to cut the deficit to 4-3.
But Panther City (2-0) put an end to a Desert Dogs comeback when forward Jonathan Donville carved through the defense and put a shot past goalie Landon Kells early in the fourth quarter.
Less than 15 seconds later, off the ensuing faceoff, forward Tony Malcom put in another Panther City goal to put the game out of reach at 6-3.
“(Panther City) was ready,” Desert Dogs coach Shawn Williams said. “I thought that going into the fourth quarter, we were still feeling good about ourselves and had a good chance to finish, and it just didn’t turn out.”
Despite having a rambunctious crowd for their first home game — which included co-owners Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash and Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams — the Desert Dogs put themselves at an early disadvantage.
Forward Jacob Ruest went to the penalty box for an illegal cross-check, and Panther City capitalized on the early man advantage with a power-play goal from forward Dean Fairall. Panther City added another goal less than three minutes later from forward Will Malcom.
Las Vegas’ first good scoring chance came shortly after on a two-on-one breakaway, but defenseman Tor Reinholdt stumbled after receiving the pass from defenseman John Wagner, and his shot was off target.
Panther City led 2-0 after the first quarter. The Desert Dogs then had to kill off another penalty 90 seconds into the second quarter on a check in the back from defenseman Garrett McIntosh.
“They were coming at us pretty aggressively early, and we were on our heels a bit,” Williams said. “They were beating us up in the transition game. … The guys had a tough time getting into rhythm.”
The Desert Dogs broke through for their first goal with 6:39 left in the second quarter. Forward Marshall King connected with Ruest from the far side as Ruest cut through the middle of the Panther City defense in front of the net, and he scored falling down.
Panther City, which recorded 22 shots on goal in the first half, padded its lead before the break with goals from Tony Malcom and Phil Caputo.
Kells stopped 35 of the 44 Panther City shots on goal he faced. Greer finished with two points, a goal and an assist.
The Desert Dogs are off until Jan. 6 when they host the Philadelphia Wings.