The Vegas Golden Knights needed a better game than what happened Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. The glass-half-full approach is the Golden Knights had a strong first and decent third period. The Tampa Bay Lightning shattered the glass in the second period by outscoring the Golden Knights 4-0.
It was game No. 34 of the regular season. Normally game No. 34 of the regular season would blend in with most of the games in December and January. But game No. 34 represented the first of who knows how many games without goaltenders Adin Hill (placed on injured reserve Thursday) and Logan Thompson.
The net currently belongs to Jiri Patera and Isaiah Saville.
“It’s not about X’s and O’s tonight. It’s all about how we respond next game.”
Jonathan Marchessault after Tuesday’s loss to the Carolina Hurricanes
Tuesday’s game against the Hurricanes was a forgettable one and Marchessault’s message was clear. Flush it and have a better game on Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
The game plan was clear in the first period. Keep high-danger chances against Patera to a minimum. The Golden Knights limited the Lightning to just five high-danger chances and took just one penalty.
Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring after Brayden McNabb fired a shot from the blue line. Paul Cotter deflected the pass directly to Marchessault who had an empty net to work with. Ivan Barbashev scored the game’s next goal off a nice pass from Mark Stone. Similar to Marchessault’s goal, Barbashev had close to an empty net to work with.
This was the period the Golden Knights needed. Goaltender injuries are a concern and they were blown out in their last game. This was also the first period the fans needed to calm their nerves.
The second period was the period that Golden Knights players and fans did not need.
Alex Barre-Boulet started the scoring for the Lightning with a tip from a Victor Hedman Shot. The Golden Knights were able to keep the Lightning off the scoreboard for nearly eight minutes until Nikita Kucherov scored on the two-man advantage. Jiri Patera lost his stick and there was nothing he could have done to save the one-timer. Brayden Point scored just 33 seconds later, also on the powerplay. Nicolas Hague stopped a pass across the slot that bounced to Point who had most of the net to work with. The Lightning were not done scoring. Patera failed to track a puck off the post and Point was able to score the easy goal.
The four-goal second period by the Lightning meant the Golden Knights were outscored 7-0 in the last two second periods of play. Yikes.
“Just let the second period get away from us.” Eichel on the loss. “Can’t draw up a better lead, come into the locker room up 2-0.”
Kucherov and Lightning coach Jon Cooper gave the Golden Knights an opening to get back in the game in the third period.
Kucherov felt he was slashed on a breakaway and got an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for yelling at the referee. Cooper was equally as upset on the bench and the Lightning lost their composure. Marchessault scored on a perfect tic-tac-toe play from the bumper during the powerplay. Paul Cotter added a goal 9:45 into the period to tie the game. The Golden Knights had a long period of sustained pressure and Cotter was able to find a soft spot through traffic to score.
This one looked like it was heading to overtime.
Unfortunately, Nicholas Paul had other ideas. Hedman took what seemed to be a harmless shot from a low percentage area outside of the right faceoff dot. Patera left the rebound in a low-danger zone but Paul scored from outside the left circle.
The Golden Knights got a couple of chances late in the period but lost this one 5-4 in regulation.
Cotter had a positive spin.
🎥 Cotter: There are games that have lessons in them. It was a teaching game. pic.twitter.com/YXJdrwy8n3
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 22, 2023
Coach Cassidy issued a challenge after the game. “To me it’s just a mental thing that our top guys and leaders have to fix. I’m one of the leaders and have to make sure I send the right message.”
What is the message the next time the Golden Knights take the ice in a rematch of the Stanley Cup Final against the Florida Panthers on Saturday afternoon. Who will be the starting goalie?
Gawlik’s Three Stars
First Star: Brayden Point, two goals and an assist
Second Star: Nikita Kucherov, one goal and two assists
Third Star: Jonathan Marchessault, two goals
Marchessault from Cotter and McNabb 11:40
Barbashev from Stone 16:58
Barre-Boulet from Hedman and Sheary 8:25
Kucherov from Stamkos and Hedman 15:55
Point from Paul and Kucherov 16:28
Point from Paul and Kucherov 18:50
Marchessault from Karlsson and Eichel 5:31
Cotter from McNabb and Hutton 9:44
Paul from Hedman and Point 18:47