The Golden Knights lost a game in regulation at home for the first time since Nov. 16 on Thursday night when the San Jose Sharks left T-Mobile Arena with a 3-2 win.
Now the task is to make sure the disappointment doesn’t linger when the Knights start a two-game trip Saturday at the Chicago Blackhawks. The puck drops at 5:30 p.m. at United Center.
“It’s over now,” forward Max Pacioretty said after Thursday’s loss ended a seven-game winning streak and 10-game stretch in which the Knights recorded at least one point. “It was an important game. We were up for it. The letdown in the third is not what we wanted to have happen, but everyone in this room has been in this position before where you put together some wins and end up losing one. We can’t let it affect us. We’re on to the next one. We want to make sure we learn from our mistakes, and we want to put together another streak now.”
The team has some experience in a similar situation in the same building.
A franchise-best eight-game winning streak was snapped in early January last season at St. Louis, but the Knights bounced back the following night with a 5-4 victory at Chicago.
They hope for similar results Saturday.
“It’s disappointing we lost (Thursday) because it was a fun game and intense, but it was a big two points to miss out on,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “But it’s a long season. We have to win the next one to get back on track and start getting points again to keep battling and climb the standings.”
The loss dropped the Knights behind the Sharks into third place in the Pacific Division standings, though the teams have separated themselves from the pack along with the first-place Flames.
More important, the Knights have been playing the way they like, and that was still the case Thursday despite the result.
“I liked our game,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “We played good hockey. We had lots of opportunities. They got a couple of breaks. They worked hard. They got three and we got two, but I thought we battled hard and played pretty well. We made a couple mistakes that cost us goals.”
The Knights have strung together plenty of those solid performances since a blowout loss in Calgary on Nov. 19, which came three days after their last home loss in regulation to the Blues.
They are 18-4-3 since the Calgary loss, which was the second game defenseman Nate Schmidt played after returning from a suspension.
Yet it’s still going to be tough to get the taste of Thursday’s setback against a burgeoning rival in a playoff-type atmosphere out of their mouths.
“It was definitely a letdown,” Pacioretty said. “… The important thing is to move on to the next one now. This day was going to come when the winning streak was going to come to an end. It’s about how you react to it.”
The Knights get the chance to move on Saturday before finishing the trip in Winnipeg against a team they met in the playoffs last year and could again this season.
“A loss is never a good feeling no matter how well we’ve been playing,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “But now we have to get out on the road and get right back after it.”
Who: Golden Knights at Blackhawks
When: 5:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: United Center, Chicago
TV: AT&T SportsNet (Cox 313/1313, DirecTV 684, CenturyLink 760/1760, U-verse 757/1757, Dish 414/5414)
Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM); ESPN Deportes (1460 AM)
Line: Golden Knights -160; total 6
1. Powering down. The Golden Knights’ power-play unit has struggled lately, going 0-for-3 against the Sharks and scoring one goal in the past eight games. Vegas is 1-for-22 over that stretch. Colin Miller’s injury is a big factor, but the Knights must find a way to generate chances on the man-advantage without him.
2. Scouting the opponent. The Blackhawks have lost four of their last five games overall and three straight at home. It has been another difficult season for a team loaded with star power and championship experience, though the franchise is excited about rookie goaltender Collin Delia, who will make his third consecutive start Saturday.
3. Maintain focus. The Knights have allowed two goals in the third period of back-to-back games after a streak of six straight games in which they didn’t allow a third-period goal. It didn’t matter Tuesday against the Rangers, but the two goals in 39 seconds on Thursday cost the Knights in a loss to the Sharks.
Adam Hill Review-Journal