Nobody associated with the Golden Knights is going to be upset after coming away with four points on a three-game road trip.
But there may have been just a bit of disappointment on Saturday night’s flight home about the missed opportunity to pick up even more on the final stop of the journey in Edmonton.
“Getting four points out of six is OK, but we wanted this game and we were close,” goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said of a 2-1 loss to the Oilers that snapped the Knights’ five-game winning streak. “It sucks to lose. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve won, it’s always disappointing when you’re so close to winning another.”
The Knights couldn’t capitalize on several quality chances early in the game or after pulling Fleury in the closing minutes in favor of an extra attacker.
“I thought we played well,” forward Reilly Smith said. “We just couldn’t put enough in the back of the net, but that hasn’t been a trend as of late for us. I think we’ve been averaging six goals a game over the last few.”
The offensive struggles were out of character for the Knights of the past two weeks.
Vegas had been averaging 4.3 goals per game in winning six of their last seven games entering play on Saturday night.
The Knights struggled to solve Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen, who stopped 32 of 33 shots to win his third consecutive game.
“You’re going to run into a little bit of a hot goalie and it seemed like pucks were just hitting him tonight,” Smith continued. “But I think, overall, we played a good game and if we keep that momentum and that pace into the next one, it will give us a good outcome.”
That next game will be a Stanley Cup Finals rematch against the Washington Capitals on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The Capitals took the first meeting 5-2 in Washington in October as part of the Knights’ 1-4 start to the season.
It’s a much different team the Capitals will see this time around as there is much more of a sense of optimism around the Knights.
Saturday’s loss did little to diminish the positive vibes of the five consecutive victories or the fact Vegas has climbed into a tie for third place in the Pacific Division.
“Any time you’re on the road and you pick up more points to put you over .500, you take it as a positive,” Smith said. “We had chances to win so you can be frustrated about that, but I think you have to look at the positives and keep moving forward.”
The run of success has the Knights over the .500 mark on the season and in good position to start making a run at another division title.
“It’s been nice to be able to bounce back,” Fleury said. “Obviously, the beginning of the season was tough. There were lots of ups and downs and we were down in the standings. We battled our way back to a better position; now we have to keep fighting to put ourselves in a better position for the playoffs.”
Ken Hitchcock, who improved to 4-1-1 since being named head coach of the Oilers last month, certainly still views the Knights as a contender.
“They came at us with a championship mentality at the start of the game,” he said. “They wanted to put us on our heels and keep us there.
“We had to dig in and punch back.”
Edmonton had enough to win the round. The Knights believe they are on track to win the fight.