TEMPE— The Vegas Golden Knights (29-17-2, 60 points) took a step backward Sunday night, losing to the Arizona Coyotes (15-27-5, 35 points) 4-1. After the VGK snapped a three-game losing streak, they won big Saturday against the Capitals, only to follow it up with this performance.
Both Phil Kessel and Adin Hill made the visit to their former team, but only one played, as Logan Thompson started the second of a back-to-back. No lineup changes were made for the VGK. Shea Theodore, Brett Howden, and Zach Whitecloud all traveled with the team but did not play.
Here's how it went down.
- Logan Thompson made a routine glove save on Shayne Ghostisbehere to start the game off fresh. That fresh start changed quickly.
- 1-0 ARZ GOAL- Logan Thompson misplayed the puck and turned it over to Nick Bjugstad, who found Dylan Guenther in the slot to score.
- Phil Kessel was honored during the first stoppage of play for both his time with the Coyotes and his iron-man streak.
- Alex Pietrangelo found Phil Kessel cutting to the net for a good chance, but his shot went wide.
- Paul Cotter forced a turnover, got the puck in the slot, and ripped a wrist shot that was stopped by Karel Vejmelka's blocker side.
- VGK PP- Jack McBain was called for tripping Nicolas Hague.
- 4 on 4- On the penalty kill, Josh Brown won a battle against Paul Cotter and forced him to take a penalty of his own.
- 2-0 ARZ GOAL- The Coyotes got off to a strong start in the second, with Clayton Keller getting a screen by Barret Hayton, and scoring.
- The Misfit Line and Paul Cotter continued to be the only players on the VGK roster with strong offensive chances.
- VGK PP- Coyotes defenseman Patrick Nemeth was called for tripping, giving the VGK a prime opportunity to get back into the game.
- 2-1 VGK GOAL- On the powerplay, Phil Kessel naturally scored in his first game back in Arizona. The crowd appreciated the goal.
our first at Mullett Arena!!! pic.twitter.com/dyOBr8yPNV
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) January 23, 2023
- The goal sparked the Golden Knights, who then saw Jonas Rondbjerg cut to the net for a great scoring chance.
- VGK PP- Things got worse for the Coyotes as Nick Bjugstad took a penalty for delay of game. The Coyotes made the kill.
- Shorthanded, Logan Thompson made a strong save on Jack McBain to keep it a one-goal game.
- Jack Eichel almost got out of his funk, receiving a pass in the slot for a grade-a chance, but he missed the net.
- VGK PP- The Golden Knights had one last gasp for a goal in the second, with Nick Bjugstad going off for tripping.
- Nick Schmaltz raced off on a shorthanded breakaway but missed the net on his shot opportunity.
- Jakob Chychrun announced the start of the third period by loudly ringing one off the post.
- Looking like Evgeni Malkin, Michael Carcone made a spin-o-rama move to the net and got a chance on Logan Thompson.
- Jonas Rondbjerg's shot off the rush hit Karel Vejmelka and went into the air. A scramble in front of the net ensued, but the puck stayed out.
- 3-1 ARZ GOAL- Clayton Keller got his second of the game midway through the third period, a backbreaker for the VGK.
- It was at this point in the game where the play of Karel Vejmelka became even more noticeable, as if it hadn't already been earlier in the game.
- Logan Thompson was pulled for the extra attacker with over five minutes left in the third period.
- 4-1 ARZ GOAL- Clayton Keller completed his hat-trick with an empty-net goal.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS NOTES
- Saturday night's 6-2 win got some attention away from Jack Eichel, who didn't have a point in that game. He continues to be snakebitten and also didn't score against the Coyotes. He's not the same player he was at the beginning of the season, and without Mark Stone, the VGK need him to be better,
- On offense without Mark Stone, the Misfit Line cannot be the only driving force for the Golden Knights, like they were again Sunday night.
- Phil Kessel once again scored in a game that had a special significance to him. See his goals against the Sharks and Penguins as other examples.
- I thought Kaedan Korczak had another strong game Sunday night, all things considered. The more games he gets in, the better he plays.
- I don't know how to describe the atmosphere inside Mullett Arena. It's just something you have to experience yourself. I've only been to five NHL Arenas, but I can tell you it is by far the most unique in the entire league. Let's Go, Sun Devils.
- Coyotes new jerseys ranking is a 6/10 (which is high for me). I like them, but too much burgundy and wordmark logos are lazy.
VHN's Player of the Game: Phil Kessel
Up Next: The Golden Knights are off to New York for three straight road games against the New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and then New York Islanders. They will play the Devils on Mondy at 4:00 p.m.