The Vegas Golden Knights (12-10) lost a heartbreaker Wednesday night to the Anaheim Ducks (13-8-3) 6-5. The Golden Knights fought hard and never gave up, but were not enough to handle the Ducks who extended their point lead in the Pacific Division standings to five points over the Golden Knights.
Michael Amadio returned for the Golden Knights as he was removed from the COVID-19 protocol list. Keegan Kolesar served as the team’s third-line center, and Robin Lehner got the start. Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf missed the game as he was injured in Tuesday night’s game against the Los Angeles Kings.
There was no scoring in the first period despite a decent amount of shots from both teams. The Ducks led in shots 13-11 after one. Each team got a powerplay chance and the Golden Knights continued to struggle on their man advantage but that would change as the game progressed.
Throughout the late first period and early second period, the Ducks failed to register a shot for nine straight minutes. On the shot that ended the streak, Troy Terry beat Lehner to score the game’s first goal in the second period.
This came on a bit of a broken play as Sam Steel’s pass hit a skate and went directly to Jamie Drysdale. Thinking quickly, Drysdale found Terry open and he fired home a one-timer which Lehner had no chance in stopping.
Just over two minutes later the Ducks scored again with Rickard Rakell getting the tally. A hardworking shift from Rakell and his linemates Sonny Milano and Trevor Zegras caused the Golden Knights to turnover the puck several times in one shift. Rakell then sniped a shot on Lehner top-corner.
The Golden Knights got their first goal on a sudden three-on-one. William Carrier took the puck in on Anthony Stolarz and scored five-hole. This rare goal from Carrier was assisted by Michael Amadio and Robin Lehner which makes it even rarer.
The Ducks regained their two-goal lead after the Golden Knights failed to handle a defensive zone faceoff win. Evgenii Dadonov essentially passed the puck to Josh Manson who walked in and fired a sharp-angle shot on Lehner. The puck hit off a Golden Knight’s defender and found its way in the back of the net to make it 3-1.
Later on, another defensive-zone faceoff led to a Ducks goal as this time the Golden Knights lost the faceoff. Hampus Lindholm fired a simple shot from the point and scored. The Golden Knights gave up four goals in the second period, the most they have given up in a single period all season.
However, before the buzzer, the Golden Knights were able to score a huge goal shorthanded in the second. Mattias Janmark made a beautiful pass to Zach Whitecloud who snuck up on the play to score.
Early in the third, the Golden Knights were aggressive on the penalty kill once more and scored their second shorthanded goal of the night. Zegras turned the puck over and Janmark walked in all alone on Stolarz and made it a one-goal game at 4-3.
At the time of this goal, this league-leading fifth shorthanded goal for the Golden Knights tied the number of powerplay goals the team had on the year.
Moments later Mark Stone and Chandler Stephenson got a two-on-one but it was disrupted after Derek Grant hooked Stone. Stone then lost an edge and crashed into the boards awkwardly with his right shoulder hitting first. He missed a couple of minutes but stayed in the game.
But things got worse for the Golden Knights as Sonny Milano found former Erie Otter Jamie Drysdale open who scored to make it 5-3. Zegras then got a chance all alone with Lehner and tried to go between-his-legs which Lehner stopped.
Nicolas Deslauriers took a penalty and with time winding down in the third period the Golden Knights received a must-score powerplay. They actually did this time as Max Pacioretty scored his fifth of the season.
With 1:52 to go in the game, the Golden Knights once again had a golden opportunity as Manson removed Carrier’s helmet for VGK PP. Lehner was called to the bench and with a six-on-four opportunity, the Golden Knights misplayed the puck and Isac Lundestrom scored a short-handed empty-net goal.
However, after a timeout, the Golden Knights remained resilient and did not go away. They ended up scoring on the remaining powerplay as Reilly Smith tipped home Alex Pietrangelo’s shot to make it 6-5
But it was too little too late and the Ducks held on to win 6-5. This is a rough loss for the Golden Knights as they never gave up in this game but still found themselves on the losing end.
The team will have a day to bounce back from this tough loss before they take on the Arizona Coyotes Friday night at 6:30 pm.