After splitting four games on an eastern trip, the Vegas Golden Knights will begin a six-game homestand Tuesday night when they play the Seattle Kraken.
The Golden Knights dropped the final game of the trip 5-2 at Detroit on Sunday after back-to-back wins at Ottawa (5-1 score) and Montreal (5-2). The Knights opened the trip with a 4-0 loss to Toronto, which snapped Vegas’ three-game win streak.
“When you go .500 on a road trip, it’s just OK,” said center Jonathan Marchessault, who scored four goals over the final three games. “It could have been a great trip if we won (Sunday), but we didn’t get it done.”
Still, averaging a point over four road games without three of their top six forwards in left wing Max Pacioretty (fractured foot), right wing Mark Stone (lower-body injury) and center William Karlsson (broken foot), as well as defenseman Zach Whitecloud (upper body) and center Nolan Patrick (upper body), kept Vegas just six points behind Pacific Division-leading Edmonton.
“I think we’re scrapping out points,” Knights coach Peter DeBoer said. “It’s tough to win on the road any time. It’s particularly tough when you have injuries to key people and multiple guys. I’m proud of our group’s resiliency. They’re not making excuses. They’re coming out and they’re working, and we’re finding a way to be competitive.”
DeBoer said even though they finished the trip with a loss to the Red Wings, he was still happy with his team’s play.
“It was probably our best first period of the trip, and we were down 3-1,” he said. “Like the hockey gods evened it up for (Saturday night when Vegas was outshot 20-1 in the first period of a 5-2 win over the Canadiens).
“I thought we hung in there and battled back. They pushed hard in the second, and they were better. I thought we pushed back hard in the third. It was just one of those nights where they found some way to score some goals from some awkward angles and things, and their goalie made some big saves at key times.”
Added defenseman Shea Theodore: “I think it’s a good building block for us. I think some of the games we came out too slow and we were able to recover. I think (Sunday) we just didn’t put enough pressure on them over the course of a full game. It’ll be good to get back home to Vegas, kind of reassess, and get ready for Seattle.”
The Kraken, who opened their expansion season in Las Vegas with a 4-3 loss on Oct. 12, come in off a 5-4 loss at Arizona on Saturday despite taking a 2-0 lead in the first 59 seconds on goals by Jordan Eberle, his fifth in four games, and Yanni Gourde, who didn’t play in the first meeting with the Golden Knights.
“Our identity is playing 60 minutes hard,” Gourde said. “We didn’t play that way.”
The Coyotes had gone 11 straight games without a win to open the season before rallying to defeat the Kraken.
“We got two quick goals, and I don’t think we played well after that,” Gourde said. “We weren’t managing the puck very well. We weren’t playing fast. We weren’t playing with identity. If you don’t do that, there are good teams in this league, and they’re going to beat you.”
–Field Level Media