The Vegas Golden Knights’ five-game winning streak was snapped in a wild 3-2 shootout loss to the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday night, bringing their record to 34-18-5, and now sit two points ahead of the Los Angeles Kings for top spot in the Pacific Division.
Despite this loss, the Golden Knights have really started to turn things around since the conclusion of the All-Star Break. They’ve won five of their six games played and have picked up 11 of 12 possible points, while scoring an average of 4.8 goals per game and allowing an average of just 1.8 goals per game in that span.
However, one glaring aspect of the Golden Knights’ game as of late has been their poor performance on the power play. They haven’t converted on their last 24 opportunities, including their only chance in this game. This shouldn’t be a problem for a team that has as much firepower as the Golden Knights do, especially against a team as defensively weak as the Blackhawks.
With both Adin Hill and Logan Thompson out of the lineup, Laurent Brossoit started for the Golden Knights, which was his first NHL start since March 15, 2022. Mark Stone was moved to the Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR) earlier this week in order to also create a roster spot for Michael Hutchinson, who was their backup goalie in this game.
Golden Knights & Patrick Kane
Blackhawks legend Patrick Kane has been headlining this season’s trade deadline targets, and the Golden Knights are one of many teams who have been named as potential landing spots for the three-time Stanley Cup champion. After freeing up $8.75 million in cap space with Stone’s move to LTIR, the Golden Knights could be in a position to make yet another shocking move to bolster their top six.
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Kane has been playing extremely well as of late, recording five goals and seven points in his last three games, and had an assist on the game-tying goal from Tyler Johnson in the final two minutes of regulation. Kane had almost ended this game in overtime as well after seemingly scoring with just one-tenth of a second left in the game, but it was called back after review.
PATRICK KANE STUNS VEGAS AS THE BUZZER! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/RPko0yoRi4— Blackhawks Talk (@NBCSBlackhawks) February 22, 2023
The price tag will undoubtedly be high for a player of Kane’s caliber, and there’s still a significant chance that he elects to stay in Chicago for the rest of the season. With a full no-movement clause being a part of his expiring contract, he is in complete control of the situation, but a decision will have to be made soon. If he decides to move on, the Golden Knights could be one of the first teams calling Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson to try and get a deal done.
Laurent Brossoit Returns for Golden Knights
As previously mentioned, it has been 343 days since Laurent Brossoit suited up for the Golden Knights. After undergoing offseason hip surgery, he missed the opening half of the NHL season and was given a conditioning stint in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Henderson Silver Knights. While goaltending hasn’t been a major issue for the Golden Knights this season, Brossoit is getting the perfect opportunity to make his way back onto this roster.
He managed to put up some decent numbers in the AHL despite the Silver Knights’ poor performance this season, where they sit ninth in the Pacific Division and have a 16-29-5 record. In his 23 games played he had an 8-11-3 record and put together a .909 save percentage (SV%) along with a 2.72 goals-against average (GAA). Having a SV% above .900 on a team that bad is a good sign that Brossoit could be ready to return to the NHL for good.
Brossoit had to be sharp in his first game back, stopping 37 of the 39 shots he faced, and two of the three shots in the shootout. The Golden Knights rank third in shots allowed throughout the month of February, giving up an average of 26.5 shots to their opponents in their last six games played. If this game can be a one-off and the Golden Knights are able to return to their defensive form, Brossoit should be able to hold his own.
With this strong performance and no clear timeline for Hill’s return, Brossoit could enter into the conversation to stick as a regular with the Golden Knights for the foreseeable future. While they shouldn’t read too much into a game against the worst offensive team in the NHL, Brossoit looked comfortable and made some big saves for them when they needed him to.
After a flurry of offense over the past few games, the Golden Knights weren’t able to put enough past Petr Mrazek in order to extend their lead in the third period. They let the Blackhawks hang in the game for far too long and after Alex Pietrangelo’s penalty gave them a two-man advantage in the final two minutes, the odds of them closing out the game proved to be too high.
To their credit, the Blackhawks have been playing some of their best hockey of the season as of late, putting together three straight wins including games against the Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Golden Knights had the opportunity to take a three-point lead ahead of the Kings for the division lead, and this late-game collapse could prove costly for their position in the standings moving forward.
The Golden Knights will get the day off and head back home to prepare for a two-game home stand, starting off against the Calgary Flames on Thursday night, who are 4-6-0 in their last 10 games.