What can a team learn from a bad loss after a long stretch of good results? We are about to find out Thursday night when the Vegas Golden Knights travel to Tampa Bay to face the Lightning. The Carolina Hurricanes blew the Golden Knights out of the building Tuesday night.
The Golden Knights kicked off their final road trip of 2023 without the services of Adin Hill, Keegan Kolesar, and Shea Theodore. Logan Thompson appeared to be battling a lower-body concern during Sunday’s victory against the Ottawa Senators.
All eyes were on Thompson on the first couple of high-danger attempts of the game for the Hurricanes. Thompson appeared to have no issues going post-to-post and got down quickly to make saves.
Andrei Svechnikov scored the game’s first goal on the Hurricanes’ power play. Svechnikov was able to use traffic in front of the Golden Knights’ net to cut Thompson’s reaction time just enough. Will Carrier answered just three minutes later. Brett Howden won an offensive zone faceoff and Will Carrier won a board battle shortly after. Carrier got the puck to Howden who found Brayden McNabb wide open just above the faceoff circles. McNabb’s shot hit traffic on the way in and Carrier cleaned up the loose change.
The game was tied heading into the first intermission.
The second period was one of the worst periods of the year for the Golden Knights. Goals by Jordan Staal, Jasperi Kotkaniemi, and Michael Bunting left the Golden Knights with a 4-1 deficit to climb heading to the third period. The Hurricanes had nothing but drivers and the Golden Knights were the passengers as the game slowly got away from them.
The Golden Knights have a veteran group that has been able to come back from multiple goal deficits as of late. A quick start to the third period would be necessary for the Golden Knights to get back in this one.
Nic Roy committed a high-sticking penalty just four seconds into the third period and Seth Jarvis scored just 10 seconds into the period to give the Hurricanes a 5-1 lead. So much for a quick start from the Golden Knights. The onslaught continued with a goal from Brady Skjei that chased Thompson from the game. Jiri Patera made his second appearance of the season.
Late goals by Jack Eichel and Carrier made for a 6-3 final in favor of the Hurricanes.
The one alarming stat after Tuesday’s game was the special teams deficit, the Golden Knights allowed three goals during the penalty kill and failed to score on the powerplay.
An obvious question after this game is the fatigue level of Thompson. Thompson has appeared in 11 games dating back to Nov. 25. It was not a good game from a results perspective by Thompson, no goalie is going to feel good about giving up six goals and getting pulled early. On the positive side, there did not appear to be any lingering concerns about whatever was bothering Thompson on Sunday. Thompson’s fatigue level was a non-starter in this game. A tired or well-rested goalie was not going to be able to compete well in a game like this. The team in front of the goalie was not very good tonight.
The Golden Knights had changes to their bottom three forward lines in the absence of Kolesar, which could have played a part in the loss as well.
“Games like that happen.” Jonathan Marchessault after the loss. “It’s not about X’s and O’s tonight. It’s all about how we respond next game.
“We’re not going to win every game first off.” Coach Bruce Cassidy on the Golden Knights’ performance. “They were just better than us, pretty much every area. Quicker to pucks, puck battles.”
Gawlik’s Three Stars
First Star: Sebastian Aho, three assists
Second Star: Michael Bunting, one goal and two assists
Third Star: Pyotr Kochetkov, 35 saves on 38 shots
Svechnikov from Skjei and Aho, 10:27
Carrier from McNabb and Howden, 13:15
Staal from Fast and Martinook, 4:36
Kotkaniemi from Chatfield and Bunting, 10:11
Bunting from Aho and Burns, 12:39
Jarvis from Bunting and Aho 0:10
Skjei unassisted, 4:44
Eichel from Hague and Stone, 18:36
Carrier from Howden and Amadio, 19:28