Gerard Gallant’s message was interpreted in slightly different ways.
The Golden Knights coach said following the loss at Boston the team needs more “fire.” His full comment was, “Just not enough fire. We need a little more fire in our game, a little more energy out there. We play OK, but not good enough.”
For defenseman and alternate captain Deryk Engelland, that means being better “in the tough areas.”
For left wing Jonathan Marchessault, it’s about “secondary effort.”
And left wing Max Pacioretty sees it as “that killer instinct.”
What they could all agree on is the Knights, who open a two-game homestand against Anaheim on Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena, must add that fire Gallant spoke of to turn around their slow start.
“For me, it’s not a surprise hearing that,” Pacioretty said. “There’s a level of transparency here and communication where the team knows where they stand at all times, in each other’s eyes and the coaches’ minds. So it’s not something that stands out as especially a wake-up call.
“But at the same time, it should be a wake-up call, because that fire is exactly what’s lacking in our game.”
The Knights appeared worn out Sunday in Boston, playing their second game in as many nights at the end of a week-long road trip.
The Bruins’ outhustled the Knights for their opening goal. Lost in goaltender Malcolm Subban’s misread on the second goal was Boston defenseman Jeremy Lauzon winning the race to the loose puck with three Knights back.
There were tired sticks in the third period — two of the three penalties the Knights took were for tripping — but Marchessault also noted a lack of urgency while the Knights trailed.
“(Gallant’s comment) means we need more more passion,” Marchessault said. “We’re down by two goals in the third period, we have no passion, we have no effort, no mojo, just casually in the game. That’s how we’ve been.”
The previous night against Montreal, the Knights overwhelmed the Canadiens in the first period of Pacioretty’s homecoming and built a 2-0 lead.
They led 4-3 in the third period after catching a break when Montreal’s Matthew Peca knocked the puck into his own net yet came away with zero points. Marchessault, in particular, was left seething afterward.
“You want to step on their throat, and it starts by when you play with that lead, you know the situation you’re in, you know you want to make life hard on them, you know you’re in their building,” Pacioretty said.
“When we talk about that extra five, 10 percent to score goals, to win games, sometimes that can be a mental thing. That can be thinking too much. That can be gripping your stick a little tight, and as a group I think we have to figure out how to create that fire for 60 minutes. It’s a small difference, but that difference is what helps you win hockey games.”
Pacioretty also noted the Knights can show more fire on the forecheck, dumping in the puck and bothering opposing defensemen rather than swinging past and starting to backcheck.
That type of pressure is a large reason the line of Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, William Carrier and Ryan Reaves has had success, according to Engelland.
The Knights were off Tuesday but spent a portion of Monday’s practice at City National Arena working on what Pacioretty termed “dirty plays.”
“We need more fire in front of their net and in front of our net, in the corners, winning all the battle areas,” Engelland said. “It’s always good to get some of those (drills) in, just get back in your game, and I think that’s an area we can do better in.”
■ Who: Golden Knights vs. Ducks
■ When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
■ Where: T-Mobile Arena
■ TV: NBCSN (Cox 38/1038, DirecTV 220, CenturyLink 640/1640, DISH 159)
■ Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM); ESPN Deportes (1460 AM)
■ Line: Golden Knights -161; total 5½