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VGK vs Nashville Predators

Steve Marcus

Nashville Predators left wing Cole Smith (36) scores a goal against Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Adin Hill (33) during the second period of an NHL hockey game at T-Mobile Arena Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Nicolas Hague (14) is on the ice at center.

Updated Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024 | 10:40 p.m.

The Nashville Predators are a team that likes to use its physicality on the forecheck.

One look at the hit total, a 40-27 edge for the Predators, is one way to see how the Golden Knights fell behind early and couldn’t recover in a 5-3 loss at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday.

The Golden Knights played the second night of a back-to-back after a 4-0 win in San Jose on Monday. Jet lag won’t be an excuse after a one-hour, 25-minute flight from Northern California and getting a full night’s sleep in their own beds.

But thanks to another tough defensive outing, and a rare off night from goalie Adin Hill, the Golden Knights dropped their third straight game at home, giving up 13 goals in those losses. Vegas turned a 4-1 deficit into a 4-3 game with 2:59 remaining, but did not get one shot attempt during a 6-on-5 with time ticking down.

Hill made 35 saves in what was his third consecutive loss.

“Your first period, you need your goaltender to be really on because he’s the one that didn’t play the night before,” coach Bruce Cassidy said, referencing Logan Thompson’s 29-save shutout on Monday. “I didn’t think Hilly was in the first period. I thought he got better as the game went on, but that’s where you need to hold things down until guys get their legs under them.”

William Karlsson, Michael Amadio and Alex Pietrangelo scored for the Golden Knights (32-18-6), who dropped to 3-3-0 since returning from the All-Star break. All three losses have come with Hill in net; it’s his first three-game losing streak as a member of the Golden Knights.

Defenseman Shea Theodore made his return to the lineup after a 35-game absence, recording an assist in 20:51 of ice time. Theodore had surgery on an upper-body injury in late November that derailed an early Norris Trophy candidacy.

Theodore didn’t look like he missed a step. At times he looked like the Golden Knights’ best player, using his speed and puck handling to create offense for his forwards. He did that on Karlsson’s power-play goal 47 seconds into the third period by making a play along the boards to set up the snipe.

He was the most rested player, outside of Hill, and it showed. Theodore said he skated well and felt good as the game went on.

“I thought they did a good job taking advantage,” Theodore said. “There were a lot of pucks that got through.”

For all the good that came out of Theodore’s return, not everyone made it unscathed.

Mark Stone did not play in the third period due to an upper-body injury that was likely a result from a hit by Nashville’s Yakov Trenin in the second period. Stone, who has had two back surgeries since 2022, did not seem to favor anything that would indicate it was his back.

Cassidy didn’t have an update on Stone postgame, adding he might have one on Wednesday.

“We know how special a player Mark is,” Pietrangelo said. “But any of our guys, you never want to see a guy go down. We’re obviously battling some injuries right now. We’ll see where things go tomorrow, but tough when your captain goes down like that.”

Amadio cut it to 4-3 with 2:59 left off a rebound, but the Golden Knights couldn’t complete the rally. Predators forward Gustav Nyquist scored into an empty net with 1:49 left to seal the two-goal final.

Vegas was starting to find its footing through the injury bug with Theodore back but now faces new potential setbacks as Stone did not return and Karlsson left briefly in the second period after a hit he took back in the first period from Nashville’s Luke Evangelista.

The schedule doesn’t ease up any time soon. The Golden Knights get one day off before hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday, who will be playing the second night of a back-to-back themselves after playing Arizona on Wednesday. It could be a night, if it’s not already, where Auston Matthews hits the 50-goal mark.

Then it’s a five-game, east-coast road trip starting Saturday in Ottawa.

That’s the last thing the Golden Knights want to think about after giving up more than four goals per game in these last three home games.

“We just need to be better at home,” Pietrangelo said. “Simple as that.”

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on X at

Article written by #LasVegasSun