The Vegas Golden Knights were on the verge of their longest winning streak of the season after five straight wins against quality opponents before the wheels seemingly fell off the proverbial wagon. The Golden Knights have now dropped three straight contests. The current losing streak has paralleled a four-game winning streak for the Los Angeles Kings, dropping Vegas into second place in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division.
What exactly is wrong with Vegas and how can they fix it quickly with a matchup with Arizona approaching? Let’s examine each of their three losses and try to determine just that.
Shoutout Loss to the Stars
The first loss of the current streak came against the Dallas Stars in what was Vegas’ first time being shut out in franchise history. The game marked the end of the aforementioned five-game winning streak, and also an eight-game home winning streak. While both teams played well through the first 30 minutes or so, the second half of the second period was the ultimate demise of the Golden Knights.
Radek Faksa tallied a quick hat trick in just over a seven-minute span during the second period. The 23-year-old forward beat Malcolm Subban on a one-time shot from in front for his first goal. With 27 seconds left in the period, Faksa notched his second, taking a cross-ice backhand feed from Gemel Smith at the right post and putting it past Subban once again.
The third and final goal came just eight seconds later. After the Golden Knights lost the faceoff, Dallas’ Antoine Roussel was able to get the puck ahead to Faksa, who put it over Subban for a 3-0 Dallas lead. It was the first hat trick of his career.
Two-Goal Loss to the Wild
Much like the loss to Dallas, Vegas was held scoreless for much of the night against the Minnesota Wild. Brayden McNabb finally got the Golden Knights on the board in the third period when he snuck a shot past Wild netminder Devan Dubnyk. The goal tied the game at one goal apiece.
Jonathan Marchessault then scored his ninth goal of the season to put Vegas ahead 2-1, but the lead wouldn’t last.
Minnesota responded with a goal only 48 seconds later by Jonas Brodin that knotted things back up even at two apiece. Wild point leader Eric Staal then scored the game-winning goal, putting the puck under Subban with seven and a half minutes remaining in the game. The Wild went on to score one last time when Staal connected on a long backhand shot that found the empty net to seal the game 4-2.
Seven Goals Allowed to the Jets
The slow starts that had plagued the Golden Knights weren’t present against the Jets. After Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers scored a power-play goal to put the Jets on the board first, Vegas struck quickly. Cody Eakin got the Golden Knights on the board, then William Karlsson scored his 14th goal of the season to give Vegas a 2-1 lead after one period in Winnipeg.
In the second period, Jets’ veteran winger Matt Hendricks beat Golden Knights goalie Maxime Lagace to tie the game at two goals apiece heading into the third period.
The third period is where the same problem of rough stretches for Vegas reared its’ ugly head once more. Winnipeg scored five times in the final period, blasting shots past Legace and scoring on three of five power-play chances.
The Common Problem
After examining the past three games, the common denominator seems to be Vegas’ inability to put together a complete 60 minutes in recent matchups. While the Golden Knights have looked like themselves for long periods of time throughout most of the games, each contest has seen a short burst of mental lapses.
The good news for Vegas is the upcoming matchup with Arizona. The Coyotes are currently 6-18-4 and should offer the Golden Knights the perfect chance to get back on track with a complete game.