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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Crucial short-handed goal stings

Updated February 17, 2024 - 11:48 pm

The Golden Knights sat in the locker room during the second intermission of a tied game against Carolina on Saturday night, knowing they had 1:50 remaining on a power play to start the third period with the opportunity to grab a lead.

Instead, they surrendered a short-handed goal and never recovered in a 3-1 defeat to the Hurricanes at T-Mobile Arena.

“That stung,” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Especially because our power has not been producing for us. First power play had some good looks around the front of the net, and we didn’t convert. The second one, opportunity to take a lead, and it goes the other way. That one was the turning point in the game for me.”

Seth Jarvis delivered the blow for the Hurricanes (32-17-5) after Daniil Miromanov couldn’t corral the puck at the blue line in the offensive zone for the Knights (31-17-6). Jarvis took it the other way and fought through two more players before pushing a shot toward the net that sneaked through Adin Hill to put Carolina in front for good 19 seconds into the third period.

Cassidy wasn’t thrilled with the play.

“We don’t do a good job at the blue line trying to keep a puck alive, and then it’s kind of a one-on-three, and I don’t feel that puck should have ever gotten in the net,” he said. “That’s one we need a stop on. We didn’t get it.”

The Knights still had plenty of time left on the power play and in the third period, but Stefan Noesen added an insurance goal six minutes later and the goal by Jarvis held up the game-winner.

“I think we were still fine,” Ivan Barbashev said of the team’s mindset after allowing the deflating short-handed goal. “We still had a chance to score, but we didn’t convert on the power play and then they got another one right after.”

Defenseman Nic Hague said it was unfortunate the Knights couldn’t answer after falling behind.

“It sucks they got one, but that’s kind of the game sometimes,” he said. “We have to find a way to respond.”

Carolina was able to answer when the Knights took the lead early on Jonathan Marchessault’s team-leading 28th goal of the year. He put the Knights ahead when he cleaned up the loose change in front after Barbashev and Nic Roy were denied on a rush midway through the first period.

Andrei Svechnikov skated down the middle with pace between Alec Martinez and Alex Pietrangelo and got a good look at the net after Martinez fell to the ice, firing a backhander past Hill to tie the game at 1-1 early in the second period and setting up Jarvis’ heroics.

“It’s kind of a nothing play, and Marty loses an edge and they take advantage of it,” Cassidy said. “He caught a rut in the ice or something and they get back in the game, which gives them life. But our power play could have helped us there, and obviously it didn’t. Once they got that, now they smell blood a little bit and did a good job the rest of the way keeping us at bay.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Mr. 800

A Knights defenseman celebrated a career milestone for the second time this week.

Days after Pietrangelo played in his 1,000th career contest, his partner Martinez appeared in his 800th game Saturday.

“I’d rather have a thousand,” Martinez joked after Saturday’s morning skate at City National Arena. “I was very happy for Alex and I guess it’s exciting for me, but I don’t really like bringing attention to myself. I care much more about team success and winning Stanley Cups than I do any personal amount of games that I’ve played.”

Pietrangelo heaped praise upon his teammate and close friend for everything he has accomplished in the league, but said all of those accolades don’t measure up to what Martinez is off the ice.

“Three Stanley Cups and always played the game the right way,” Pietrangelo said. “He’d be well over a thousand if not for some unfortunate injuries, but you talk about what you want in a teammate and friend and you’ve got it in Marty.”

2. Valuable experience

Brendan Brisson’s first NHL stint is officially over after seven games with the Knights, but coach Bruce Cassidy hopes the former first-round pick got plenty out of his time with the big club.

“I thought it was a good experience for him to be around here for a stretch of time,” Cassidy said of the decision to send Brisson back to the AHL affiliate in Henderson. “Hopefully he feels the same way.

“What you want is a guy to go down there and say, ‘OK, now I get what they’re telling me and I get that I can play in this league if I do this, this and this and make realistic evaluations.’ Hopefully he does that and goes down and takes care of those things so when he comes back up, those are buttoned up a little more.”

The areas where the Knights are looking for progress remain the same. Brisson is a gifted offensive player with the puck on his stick, but the organization has been trying to drill home the importance of putting in the work to get to that point.

Cassidy said the strides Brisson has made in that area are noticeable, but they still want to see more.

“He’s realizing in the NHL that nobody gives you pucks back. You have to go get them. I liked that part of the game,” Cassidy said. “The little things like that you have to do in a man’s league if you want to have the puck and create offense and play to your strength, I think he’s understanding now after living it.

“You can tell him all you want, but now that you live it you see it’s a hard league to get the puck, so you know when you do get it you better be strong on it and work hard to get it back if you lose it.”

Brisson had a goal and two assists in his seven games.

Byron Froese was recalled from Henderson to take Brisson’s spot in the lineup. He skated with Jonas Rondbjerg and Keegan Kolesar on the fourth line. Paul Cotter was also back in the lineup after missing Monday’s game due to illness.

The Knights called up Mason Morelli before Saturday’s game, and he was on the ice for warmups but did not play. He appeared to be a contingency in case someone was unable to go.

3. Odd man out

The Knights expect to get star defenseman Shea Theodore back in the lineup this week, which will leave Cassidy with some decisions to make.

Among the most intriguing is who will be the seventh defenseman in case of rest or injury with the top three regular pairs back together.

Daniil Miromanov, who recently returned from ACL surgery and has been in the lineup the last few games, is a logical choice. But so is Ben Hutton, who has been out since Dec. 28 and appears healthy again.

Kaedan Korczak is also in the mix, but he is waiver-exempt, so the organization was able to send him to Henderson to get reps.

Cassidy said a decision between Miromanov and Hutton could often come down to who needs to be replaced. The Knights would prefer Hutton to replace a left-hander and Miromanov a right-hander.

“That’s how we’d like to do it, but it doesn’t always mean it’s going to play out that way,” Cassidy said.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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