Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant sounded an alarm early Friday when he called Ottawa a “dangerous” team.
The Senators showed why hours later.
Ottawa’s Alex Burrows scored 8:51 into the third period and the Knights were unable to overcome a slow start in a 5-4 loss to the lowly Senators before an announced crowd of 18,269 at T-Mobile Arena.
“I think we got out-competed tonight,” Gallant said. “We didn’t work hard enough and we had one line going. You’re not going to win many games like that. You can look at one thing, but it wasn’t one thing. We weren’t ready to compete.”
The Knights (41-18-5, 87 points) dropped their third straight, equaling their longest losing streak of the season, and remained eight points ahead of San Jose in the Pacific Division.
Ryan Carpenter and William Karlsson scored in the third period to tie the game at 4. Reilly Smith and Colin Miller had goals in the first period for the Knights, who begin a five-game road trip Sunday at New Jersey.
The Knights dropped both games of a home-and-home with Los Angeles this week and fell flat against Ottawa, which had lost five straight and entered with an NHL-low seven road victories.
“I think our game’s just slipping a bit. We have to get back to the basics,” Knights defenseman Shea Theodore said. “The playoff race coming down the stretch is going to be tight for points and we have to play a lot better hockey.”
Bobby Ryan had a goal and two assists and defenseman Erik Karlsson added three assists for Ottawa (22-31-10, 54 points).
Ottawa’s Mark Stone scored and had a spectacular assist to spring Ryan for his breakaway goal early in the second. Matt Duchene (power play) and Jean-Gabriel Pageau also scored in the second for the Senators.
The Knights trailed 4-2 entering the third period but scored twice in the opening 7:55 to nearly steal a point.
Karlsson beat Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson through the five-hole at 3:25 of the third. Carpenter added a short-handed goal to tie the game at 4.
But Burrows, in his first game back after a 10-game suspension, deflected in Erik Karlsson’s shot less than a minute after Carpenter’s goal.
“It was good that we showed some character, but that’s not the type of game that we want to play and we’ve been playing to have success, myself included,” Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said. “We can’t be losing these games now.”
The Knights were 18-4-1 when leading after the first period, but allowed three unanswered goals in the second period despite outshooting Ottawa 18-17.
Jonathan Marchessault had the Knights’ best chance but was stopped on a breakaway with 11:30 remaining in the period.
The Knights scored on their first shot of the game, then went more than 15 minutes without a shot on goal against Anderson.
After Karlsson forced a turnover at the Ottawa blue line, Jonathan Marchessault quickly found Smith alone in front for a backhander 58 seconds into the first period.
The Knights didn’t register another shot on goal until Marchessault’s wrister from the left wing with 3:27 remaining, but went ahead 2-1 at the end of a power play when Miller sent a wrist shot through traffic with 1:36 remaining in the first.
“There’s just no excuse for us. We’re hockey players. It’s a hard job, but everybody needs to be ready,” Marchessault said. “Today was just not good. Our last game was not good. We can’t just leave (Fleury) out there to try to save us.
“The first period was embarrassing. We got three shots on net. What does that say for this group? You can’t expect to win if you only play 20 or 40 minutes a game.”
1. About Schmidt. The Golden Knights missed defenseman Nate Schmidt against Ottawa’s top line of Mark Stone, Bobby Ryan and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Knights were forced to juggle their defense partners throughout and struggled to find a combination that worked.
2. Slow start. The Knights were credited with three shots on goal in the first period. Their season low for a period is two shots on goal in the first at Montreal on Nov. 7.
3. On walkabout. Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury showed his aggressiveness again with about 12 minutes remaining in the second period. Fleury beat Ottawa’s Zack Smith to a loose puck near the right faceoff dot, then was forced to make a save on Ryan Dzingel well away from his net.
David Schoen Review-Journal