If it looks like a trap game, smells like a trap game, and tastes like a trap game. It is probably a trap game. The Vegas Golden Knights fell 2-0 to the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena in a trap game.
The game within the game: The dreaded first game back from the road trip also had trap game status. Could the Golden Knights find their game early enough to avoid falling to a lesser opponent before beginning a tough Canadian road trip? Spoiler alert; the Golden Knights never found their game.
First period: The first period featured no scoring but it was a solid period by the Golden Knights who outshot the Coyotes 13-5. This felt like a very winnable game for the Golden Knights if they could stick to the plan while not trying to force scoring chances in the second and third periods.
Second period: The second-period recap is not much different than the first-period recap. The Golden Knights held the shot advantage 7-5 and controlled the pace. Michael Amadio had a pair of nice chances on a mini-breakaway. Connor Ingram robbed Alex Pietrangelo with the glove during a Golden Knights power play.
Would coach Bruce Cassidy stick to the plan or make adjustments to try and find a goal in the third period?
Third period: Clayton Keller scored the game’s deciding goal with just under 10 minutes left in the third period. Brayden Pachal lost a puck battle, Brayden McNabb could not stop the pass through the slot, and the forwards didn’t cover Keller driving to the net. Lawson Crouse added an empty-net goal to lock this one down.
Coach Cassidy tried to shake up the lines to find a spark, but the Golden Knights failed to find the back of the net.
Turning point: This game did not feature a positive turning point for the Golden Knights. The turning point could have been the Golden Knights finding another gear in the third period, but that was not the case. It is not that the Coyotes were necessarily the better team tonight, the Golden Knights did not perform like a team with a Stanley Cup banner hanging from their rafters.
Key storyline: The Golden Knights were playing a winnable brand of hockey through the first two periods but had no goals to show for their efforts. On the positive side, the defense was playing well despite being down Alec Martinez and Shea Theodore. Unfortunately, a defensive breakdown led to the game’s only goal with a goaltender in the net.
Quotable: “The work boots were on, but they weren’t tied up.” Vegas Golden Knights Insider Gary Lawless.
“Weird game. These are tough coming back from a long road trip.” Mark Stone after the loss.
“We should have put that game away in the first period.” Jonathan Marchessault on the team not converting early scoring chances. “Everybody gets ready to play us. It’s not always going to be rainbows and butterflies.”
“A teenager outworked our defensemen and got the puck to the net.” Cassidy on Keller’s goal.
Next up: The Golden Knights begin a three-game Canadian road trip Monday against the Calgary Flames.