If this were a boxing match, it would have been a heavily-hyped bout between two championship-caliber heavyweights. Instead the Vegas Golden Knights threw only one good punch to start things off and then tripped over their own shoelaces en route to a 5-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night.
Max Pacioretty started with the thunderous right hook to the Avalanche just 40 seconds into the game, splitting the defense and scoring a beautiful goal to give the VGK a 1-0 lead. That goal turned out to be the high water mark for the team.
From there the Avalanche woke up and started fighting back.
Vegas would only manage five shots each in the first and second periods while Colorado turned a 1-0 deficit to start the middle frame into a 4-1 lead by the end of it on goals from Joonas Donskoi, JT Compher, Cale Makar and Gabriel Landeskog.
Former Vegas Golden Knights Pierre-Edouard Bellemare added the insurance marker in the third period against his old team.
Marc-Andre Fleury didn’t bail out his beleaguered teammate this time, looking human for the first time in a while. It’s been a luxury to assume he would just stand on his head every night, and it’s just not possible.
Vegas did have a potential second goal called back in the third period because Ryan Reaves was offside.
Goaltending – C
Marc-Andre Fleury was average. He was human. And it was not going to cut it on a night when he had no run support and no defensive help. While there were a few he’d like back, you can’t pin this loss on his effort.
Defense – F
The D were flat out bad. Gap control was non-existent and the Avs were able to use speed to generate all the space and time they needed. The defense also got caught pinching on more than a few occasions. High quality chances were plentiful. Passing lanes were not covered. I could go on but sometimes it’s best to just leave it alone. Vegas needs to respect the speed and attack velocity of the Avalanche more and give more thought to responsibility in the defensive zone for Saturday’s game.
Forwards – D+
The forwards fared slightly better but not much. Five shots a period for the first 40 minutes just won’t cut it. Credit Colorado for doing a great job keeping the VGK to the perimeter all night and limiting zone time. But Vegas never got the forecheck going, didn’t recover pucks in the offensive zone and didn’t win the battles on the boards. You simply can’t score without the puck.
Special Teams – C
Vegas failed to score on its only power play of the game and allowed a power play goal to the Avalanche. Nothing to see here, move along.
- Clearly this was another game where the Vegas Golden Knights tried to sleepwalk through two periods and then flip a switch in the third period, except the Avalanche weren’t having any of it. Colorado is too good and too deep to give anything less than 60 minutes against and expect success.
- Vegas had a couple days off heading into this game and while the rest may be useful in the long run, the rust was immediate and apparent. I can’t imagine this team getting two days off again for a while.
- The Golden Knights never really looked engaged in this one, and despite Max Pacioretty scoring early it never got going. It seemed recently the VGK had managed to beat the bugaboo around their slow starts, and with the early goal tonight that seemed to be the case again. That lasted all of 40 seconds.
- Speaking of Max Pacioretty, good to see him back out there and looking none the worse for wear. Hopefully he feels just as good tomorrow.
- This one was a clunker, pure and simple. Every team has a few of these over the course of the season, this one just happened to come against a red-hot top-notch opponent. Take the lessons from it and move on.