NEW YORK — The Golden Knights lost another game Tuesday. But at least they didn’t lose another goaltender.
If nothing else, that’s a win for a team that has started four different goalies in its first 11 games as a franchise.
Maxime Lagace played better, but the New York Rangers took advantage of a tripping double-minor to David Perron in the third period to eventually tie the game at 4, and Mika Zibanejad’s wrist shot from the top of the left faceoff circle with 5:49 remaining put the Rangers ahead on the way to a 6-4 victory at Madison Square Garden.
The Knights (8-3) lost consecutive games for the first time in their brief history.
“I kind of let the team down on that one,” Perron said of his trip to the penalty box, which came 4:51 into the third period. “Obviously, we talked before the game we can’t take many penalties to win on the road, and I was guilty of that tonight.”
Coach Gerard Gallant said: “That was the turning point. When they scored one goal on that, then we stopped playing and let them attack and we didn’t attack them.”
Ironically, it was Perron who had given his team a two-goal lead when he converted the franchise’s first-ever penalty shot with 1:01 remaining in the second period. Perron was in the clear when he was hooked from behind and awarded the penalty shot.
Perron calmly skated in, gave a little head-and-shoulder fake and slid the puck along the ice past Henrik Lundqvist to put the Knights ahead 4-2 entering the third period.
“I thought about going backhand, but I decided to go a different way,” Perron said. “I’m just glad it worked.”
Lagace (pronounced La-GASS-say) started for the first time as an NHL goalie and went the distance, stopping 32 of the 37 shots he faced, as Michael Grabner’s empty-net goal with 1:14 to play sealed the win. Lagace replaced Oscar Dansk in the second period of Monday’s 6-3 loss to the New York Islanders in Brooklyn and surrendered four goals in 11 shots.
Dansk was placed on injured reserve with a lower-body injury Tuesday and was headed back to Las Vegas to receive treatment. Dylan Ferguson, who has been playing in junior hockey with the Kamloops Blazers, was called up as Lagace’s emergency backup.
“It’s not the result we wanted, but I felt more comfortable,” Lagace said. “I’m taking the experience in and having fun with all of that. I wish we won (Tuesday), but it’s going to be — refocus for the next game (Thursday at Boston).”
Gallant said don’t blame Lagace for the third-period collapse.
“Max was fine,” Gallant said. “They got five goals and it’s not on Max. Max had nothing to do with us losing the hockey game tonight. It was our lack of coverage in the D zone. The kid played solid. It’s nothing on him.
“We sat back and let them take it to us in the third period. That’s two nights in a row we pissed away points. We’ve played four good periods here, and we have to play for 60 minutes.”
For the Rangers, it was a much-needed win as they climbed out of the Metropolitan Division cellar, improving to 4-7-2. On top of that, the terrorist attack early Tuesday afternoon in lower Manhattan weighed on the minds of the players and the 17,294 fans at the Garden, as the normally festive mood was tempered by the incident.
“We were trying to play for the whole city and for all the families involved,” Zibanejad said.
Three takeaways from Tuesday’s game:
1. The “New” Garden is fantastic. The recent remodeling of Madison Square Garden is amazing. The seats. The wide concourses. The big scoreboard. The “Bridge” seats. James Dolan deserves credit for getting the Garden modern. Too bad the Knights don’t come back until next year.
2. Cody Eakin is a 200-foot player. It’s one of Gerard Gallant’s favorite phrases. But in Eakin’s case, it’s true. He’s one of the best at coming back and helping in the defensive zone and he came up with the puck that led to David Perron’s late second-period breakaway and ultimately, the franchise’s first penalty shot, which Perron converted to make it 4-2.
3. Shea Theodore will adjust. The game is quicker at this level than what the defenseman was used to playing in the AHL with the Chicago Wolves. He seemed just a tick behind and had a horrible turnover during a second period power play when he attempted a back pass in his own zone that was intercepted. Fortunately for Theodore, the Knights regained possession and no harm was done.
— Steve Carp