The Vegas Golden Knights had an effort worth forgetting in the National Hockey League’s showcase regular season game. The Seattle Kraken shut out the Golden Knights 3-0 in the Winter Classic.
One fun, or not-so-fun, thing about watching a Winter Classic is adjusting your eyes to the environment. It is easy to catch your eyes wandering on the sights around the rink. The puck can be hard to track as your eyes adjust to a new and unusual environment.
The first period featured sluggish hockey by both teams. Players did not track the puck well for their first few shifts as they adjusted to a different ice surface. As the period progressed, the puck bounced more, and long passes were harder to complete.
Eeli Tolvanen scored the period’s only goal just five minutes in. Vince Dunn took a harmless shot from the point that Michael Amadio failed to block. The nearest Golden Knights’ defenseman was 10 feet from Tolvanen who was able to tip the puck behind Logan Thompson. There had to be a communication breakdown between Nicolas Hague and Alex Pietrangelo who watched Tolvanen tip the puck.
The Golden Knights did not sustain a lot of time in the offensive zone and had issues generating an attack off the rush. It took the Golden Knights 15 minutes to find their game. Chandler Stephenson and Jonathan Marchessault had a two-on-one chance. Jack Eichel had a mini-breakaway from the blue line. Kraken goaltender Joey Daccord kept the Golden Knights off the board in the first period.
The second period was close to a mirror image of the first period. The Kraken scored an early goal and the Golden Knights’ game improved as the period progressed.
Will Borgen took a slapshot from the top of the right circle that beat under his left arm. The puck was on edge when Borgen shot it, but Thompson had a clear view of the shot and failed to execute a common save.
The Golden Knights had a late power play and Mark Stone nearly scored off a deflection that hit the post.
Speed is hard to come by in the neutral zone for both teams. The puck is moving slowly and taking unpredictable bounces. It is the same environment for both teams, but the environment will make for an even taller hill to climb for the Golden Knights in the third period.
The third period started like the second period with the Golden Knights allowing a bad goal. Paul Cotter did a good job getting back to break up a pass. Cotter skated the puck towards his own goal and turned it over to Yanni Gourde. Gourde lost possession of the puck and Thompson whiffed trying to clear the puck. Gourde pushed the rebound past Thompson which would stand as the game’s final goal.
The 3-0 outcome in favor of the Kraken does not paint the entire picture of the game. The Golden Knights did not have a winning effort. But the Golden Knights hit the post twice, Eichel had three high-danger chances, and Thompson allowed two soft goals. The Golden Knights had a path to points in this game.
The loss drops the Golden Knights to 4-6 in their last 10 games.
The Golden Knights look to get back on track Thursday night at home in their second meeting of the year with the Florida Panthers.
Gawlik’s Three Stars
First Star: Joey Daccord, 35 saves
Second Star: Eeli Tolvanen, goal and assist
Third Star: Will Borgen, goal
Tolvanen from Dunn and Larsson, 4:50
Borgen from Kartye and Tolvanen, 2:19