The Golden Knights aren’t alone in their struggles with 5-on-3 power plays. Entering Monday, 13 other teams had not scored with a two-man advantage, either.
But the Knights’ issues with 5-on-3s were magnified again Monday when they couldn’t convert early in the third period of a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at T-Mobile Arena.
“I thought the power play, obviously that 5-on-3 was not what we were looking for,” defenseman Colin Miller said. “I think that was a big turning point. We need that power play to come through there.”
The Knights were unable to capitalize on a two-man advantage in a loss at Winnipeg on Jan. 15, and generated one shot on goal during 1:11 of a 5-on-3 with an opportunity to take the lead against Minnesota.
They’ve had 4:47 of 5-on-3 time on four opportunities this season and are yet to convert.
“It was a momentum swing for us because we didn’t get much done on the 5-on-3, so we were a little bit frustrated, but I don’t think it changed the rest of the game,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “The bottom line was we didn’t battle around the crease enough for our goalie, and that was how they scored all three goals. I don’t think it changed a whole lot, but it’s disappointing we can’t get a better look at our 5-on-3.”
Minnesota held the Knights without a shot on goal for more than 10 minutes of the third period and went ahead with 5:31 remaining when Charlie Coyle tapped in Jared Spurgeon’s pass at the back post.
Mikko Koivu added an empty-net goal, which was the 200th of his NHL career.
It was the third loss in the past five games for the Knights, who fell to 16-5-3 at home and missed out on their 30th victory in front of an announced crowd of 18,328.
The Wild are 4-0-1 all time against the Knights.
”Honestly, they were a little hungrier, a little more desperate team than we were,” right wing Alex Tuch said. “That’s just what it comes down to. We weren’t doing the little things that needed to be done. We weren’t forechecking like a five-man unit.”
The Knights were coming off an action-packed victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday, but remained winless in four Monday games.
Tuch tallied his career-high 16th goal on a power play less than four minutes into the first period, and Max Pacioretty ripped a one-timer past Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk (30 saves) to tie the score 2-2 with 7:22 remaining in the second period.
“I felt like we had some opportunities to go up and feel better about the game and come one bounce short and we’re on the losing end of it,” Pacioretty said.
Following a lackluster first period that saw the teams combine for 11 shots on goal, Minnesota scored two goals 1:13 apart midway through the second period.
Marcus Foligno converted Joel Eriksson Ek’s feed from behind the net at 9:09 before Eric Staal put the Wild ahead 2-1 when he was left alone at the back post and banged in Jordan Greenway’s pass.
Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury finished with 18 saves on 21 shots.
“We were playing them the way we wanted to and then a little bit soft on our sticks allowed them to make those plays,” Pacioretty said. “We didn’t give up much, but when we did give them up, they were big. We have to be a little bit better, definitely in our end and around the net, behind our net. That’s one of the best ways to create offense is from behind the net and they were able to do so against us. We’ve got to find ways to take that away from teams, especially against them.”