Jason Franson / The Canadian Press via AP
Published Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 | 8:58 p.m.
Updated Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023 | 10:45 p.m.
The totality of the game, once again, did not yield the results the Golden Knights were looking for.
Playing a back-to-back and rallying to earn at least a point against their rivals might be the closest to a moral victory that’s acceptable. The Golden Knights managed to force a shootout after trailing by two in the third period, but lost their third straight game in falling 5-4 to the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Tuesday.
Trailing 4-2, Ben Hutton scored his first of the year at 13:30 of the third period. Keegan Kolesar tied it 4-4 with 2:08 remaining while deflecting a puck in mid-air off a cross-ice pass from Zach Whitecloud.
The game carried into a shootout for the fourth time in Vegas’ season, but it ended as quickly as it started with Connor McDavid and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scoring the lone goals for Edmonton. Jonathan Marchessault and Jack Eichel missed both of the Golden Knights’ chances.
Vegas earned a point for the second straight night after losing 2-1 in overtime to the Calgary Flames on Monday.
“How we tied it was exciting for me because it was our third and fourth line that went out and scored the goals that we need to start scoring,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It can’t always be your top guys. That’s why it feels like no matter who won the shootout, we still feel pretty good about leaving here.”
Those goals — getting to the net and winning puck battles below the goal line — have what eluded the Golden Knights the past week. Vegas entered Tuesday having scored four goals total in their last four games, and hadn’t scored a goal at 5-on-5 in five games (Nov. 18 at Philadelphia).
While the offense returned on the second night of a back-to-back, a loss still counts the same, as the Golden Knights (14-5-4) fell to 3-5-3 in their last 11 games after starting the season 11-0-1. Mark Stone and Michael Amadio scored, and Logan Thompson made 30 saves while losing his fifth consecutive start (0-3-2).
“The main thing is we need everyone to do a little more,” Stone said. “We got big contributions from Hutty and Koley to get the point.”
It took 1:11 into the second period for the Golden Knights to tie the game. Stone scored his sixth of the season when he deflected Kaedan Korczak’s shot from the point, evening the game at 1-1.
That was Vegas’ first goal at 5-on-5 since Jonathan Marchessault scored at 15:00 of the second period against Philadelphia on Nov. 18 (five games).
Any time the Golden Knights tried to create momentum, the Oilers had a response. Mattias Janmark restored the Edmonton lead less than four minutes later when Mattias Ekholm’s shot from the left circle deflected off Janmark and past Thompson.
Amadio tied it again 43 seconds later immediately following a faceoff, but the Oilers added two more goals — a breakaway from Connor McDavid, and a power-play goal from Evander Kane — to push the lead to 4-2 after 40 minutes.
“When you look at an 82-game season, whether we win the division by one or two points, these points matter,” Stone said. “Even when you’re not playing your best hockey, you have to bank these points.”
The Golden Knights wrap up their Western Canadian road trip Thursday against the improved Vancouver Canucks, who trail Vegas by one point for first place in the Pacific Division. They’ll likely have to play a third straight game without defensemen Shea Theodore and Alec Martinez.
But they’ve gotten two points in two games where they probably shouldn’t have deserved points. Much to what Cassidy mentioned, the defending Stanley Cup champions will gladly take that before the calendar flips to December.
“Teams go through that that have a run the year before,” Cassidy said. “We have been grinding points out. There’s a pendulum that swings the other way where over time … some of those things that were happening for us earlier in the year aren’t now, but you’re still getting a point while leaving town.”