Updated November 28, 2023 - 10:45 pm
The Golden Knights finally found a way to put some pucks in the net Tuesday night.
It still wasn’t enough to overcome a great performance by one of the best offensive players in the league.
Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists in regulation, then beat Logan Thompson to start the shootout and help the Oilers to a 5-4 win over the Knights at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta.
It’s the first time the Knights have lost three consecutive games this season, but the Knights certainly didn’t go down quietly as their offense finally seemed to wake up.
It came from some unexpected sources late in the game.
Ben Hutton and Keegan Kolesar scored their first goals of the season as the Knights (14-5-4) erased a two-goal deficit in the final 6:30 of regulation to tie the game.
Kolesar’s goal came when he was able to knock a puck out of the air in front of goaltender Stuart Skinner and into the back of the net with 2:08 remaining in regulation.
Hutton had cut a 4-2 deficit in half with a blast from the point with 6:30 remaining to give the Knights life.
Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said he’s never pleased with a loss, but he was relieved to see his team break out of its offensive slump.
“How we tied it was exciting for me because it was our third and fourth lines that went out and scored goals that we need to start scoring again where we’re creating havoc around the front of the net and finishing some plays,” Cassidy said. “It can’t always be your top guys, and tonight it wasn’t.”
Edmonton’s top guy did deliver.
McDavid, who had given the Oilers a 3-2 lead on a breakaway goal in the second period, beat Thompson to open the shootout.
After a Jonathan Marchessault miss, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also beat Thompson. Jack Eichel’s unsuccessful attempt ended the game and ensured the Knights would earn just one point for the second straight night after falling in overtime to Calgary on Monday to start a trip that concludes Thursday against the Canucks.
“We’re still getting a point and leaving town still .500 on the trip going to Vancouver, and we know we have more to give,” Cassidy said. “They’re all important, and at the end of the year, they all add up.”
The Knights scored multiple goals in the second and third periods, the first time they had done so in any period since Nov. 18 against Philadelphia. Mark Stone’s goal in the second period was also the first five-on-five goal scored by the Knights since that same game against the Flyers.
Michael Amadio also scored a goal in the second period that tied the game at 2 before the Oilers scored twice to carry a 4-2 lead to the third.
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
1. Thompson falls in shootout
Knights goaltender Logan Thompson has been one of the better shootout goaltenders in the league.
He had allowed just seven goals on 38 attempts, but couldn’t keep the ultra-skilled McDavid or Nugent-Hopkins out of the net.
McDavid had already beat Thompson on a breakaway earlier in the game and went way wide before attacking the goal on his attempt.
The Knights had been 3-0 in shootouts this season, with Thompson winning once and Adin Hill twice.
2. Mixing it up
Assistant coach Joel Ward moved from the press box to the bench to add an extra set of eyes and be a messenger for Cassidy.
“I think offensively, things haven’t gone as well, so having another voice there to talk to players is good,” said Cassidy, who indicated it was a move that was discussed before the season. “We’re kind of at the quarter pole, so it felt like a good time.”
One of the things Ward is concentrating on is faceoffs, an area where the team has lost some focus, Cassidy said.
“He’s watching a little more of that and doing some individual stuff,” Cassidy said. “He’s dealing with the forwards on a regular basis, so having him there could be productive for us. It was going to happen sooner than later, and sooner came today.”
3. Unfinished business
The physical and at times nasty playoff series between these two teams last year certainly ratcheted up the budding rivalry.
Even though there were no fights, there was certainly some chippiness in the first meeting of the season between the teams.
The fans were definitely into it and had their ire fixed on one player in particular: Each time Alex Pietrangelo touched the puck, he was showered with boos.
Pietrangelo was suspended for Game 5 in that second-round series for a slash on Oilers star Leon Draisaitl late in Game 4.
He probably wouldn’t want to run for office in Edmonton anytime soon.