Ryan Reaves cut to the middle of the ice, and just as he’s done nearly a dozen times in the past three games, the Golden Knights’ fourth-line winger created a prime scoring chance.
But when his shot with 7:09 remaining in the third period was turned away by Vancouver goaltender Jacob Markstrom, Reaves looked to the rafters at T-Mobile Arena and slapped his shin pad with his stick in anger.
The Knights were unable to take advantage of a short-handed Canucks squad and fell 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday before an announced crowd of 18,189.
“I think we looked across at the opponent and thought we were going to walk through them. That’s not the case,” Reaves said. “If you don’t play your best game every night, any team can win in this league and it showed today.”
Max Pacioretty notched his first goal in six games and Reaves scored late in the second period to help the Knights earn a point despite the end of their three-game winning streak.
Erik Haula, Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson were turned away by Markstrom in the shootout.
Markus Granlund scored in the fourth round of the shootout for Vancouver. Bo Horvat had the Canucks’ goals in regulation, tallying twice 1:04 apart in the second period.
“Had we won a shootout, we’d be talking about the win. They won the skills competition,” Pacioretty said. “I thought by the end of the game we gave ourselves a chance to win it. We got better as the game went on, and we had some open looks.”
The Knights outshot Vancouver 35-26 but scored two or fewer goals for the seventh time in nine games.
Pacioretty opened the scoring 1:18 into the second period when Haula forced a turnover behind the Canucks net and found Pacioretty alone in the slot for his first goal since Oct. 6 at Minnesota.
But Horvat responded for Vancouver, tipping in Loui Eriksson’s shot to tie the game before he put the Canucks ahead 2-1 shortly after.
Horvat gloved down a diagonal pass from Tim Schaller in the neutral zone and beats Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury high to the glove side at the 5:26 mark.
“They were quick on the forecheck, put a lot of pressure on our guys,” Fleury said. “Every time we had the puck, somebody was on our guys quickly. That made it tough to make plays. I like the way we battled back though.”
The Knights’ fourth line finally was rewarded with 2:21 remaining in the second period after squandering multiple scoring chances in the past two games.
Moments after one-time Golden Knights forward Brendan Leipsic was turned away from in close, Reaves took a drop pass from William Carrier and zipped a shot into the top corner to tie the game at 2.
“Great breakout by (Pierre-Edouard Bellemare) and (Carrier) and good job by Will for finding me,” Reaves said. “We’re just communicating real well. We’re doing the things we talk about, and it’s working.”
Vancouver played without rookie standout Elias Pettersson (concussion) and winger Brock Boeser, the team’s leading goal scorer last season but turned in a strong defensive effort.
The Knights were held without a shot on goal for the opening 11:16 of the first period until a long-distance wrist shot from defenseman Brad Hunt’s made it through to Markstrom.
The best chance for the Knights came with 6:25 left in the first when Markstrom sent a poor clearing pass onto William Karlsson’s tape, but the Knights forward fumbled the puck and couldn’t get off a shot.
“I didn’t like our start,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “Again, we gave up some breakaways and odd-man rushes for no apparent reason. They made some great plays, but we were a little bit sleepy in the first period giving up some of those opportunites.”