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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Lead slips away, but that’s OK

Updated February 24, 2024 - 9:08 pm

The Golden Knights lost their third straight game Saturday and fifth in the past six. They fell to 3-4-1 since the All-Star break.

William Karlsson was presented these facts, and the forward’s opinion of the outcome was unchanged.

“I’m proud how we played today, and I’m glad we got at least one point,” Karlsson said. “That’s how I see it.”

Despite being unable to hold a two-goal lead, the Knights managed to snag a point to open their five-game road trip. Chandler Stephenson scored his second goal of the game with 1:15 left in the third period to force overtime, but the Golden Knights lost 4-3 in a shootout to the Senators at Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, Ontario.

Ottawa’s Tim Stutzle was the only player to convert in the shootout. Nicolas Roy, Jonathan Marchessault and Shea Theodore missed their attempts for the Knights.

“It’s something to build off for a long road trip here,” Stephenson said. “Obviously it would have been nice to secure the two-goal lead that we had, but credit to them for their push. For us to get one late, it got a point out of it. Shootouts can go either way in this league.”

The Knights (32-19-7) turned in a stronger defensive effort than they did in Thursday’s 7-3 thumping by Toronto and showed more of the urgency coach Bruce Cassidy wanted to see as they make their playoff push with 24 games remaining.

Marchessault opened the scoring in the first period with his 30th goal of the season, and Stephenson converted on a power play in the second period before the Senators (25-27-3) responded with three consecutive goals.

Thomas Chabot and Drake Batherson scored in the second for Ottawa. Josh Norris redirected a shot by Chabot past Knights goalie Logan Thompson early in the third to put the Senators ahead 3-2.

This was the Knights’ first loss in six appearances at Ottawa (5-0-1) and snapped a nine-game winning streak against the Senators.

“I thought we actually defended pretty well tonight compared to some of the games more recently. That part of the game I liked,” Cassidy said. “At the end of the day, I felt we played well enough to get two (points).”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Wise timeout

The Knights took advantage of an icing to call timeout with 1:29 remaining in the third period and set up a play from an offensive-zone faceoff that led to the tying goal.

Following a scramble for the puck, the Knights gained control and quickly worked it around the perimeter. Theodore fired a diagonal pass to Karlsson along the left wing, and he then sent a cross-ice feed to Stephenson at the right circle.

Stephenson wasted little time and fired a wrist shot past Forsberg for his 12th goal and the Knights’ first six-on-five goal this season.

“That’s been a problem for us all year, so we changed up a bit of our structure on it and found the open guy, got it to the net,” Cassidy said. “Part of our problem with that is we haven’t been executing that play to get it to the net down low, so that was good. Obviously helps us get a point.”

2. Can’t capitalize

The Knights missed several chances to extend their lead, including a breakaway by Sheldon Rempal that was turned aside by Ottawa goaltender Anton Forsberg with 5:55 left in the second period.

Stephenson also had an opportunity to win the game and finish his hat trick in overtime but couldn’t beat Forsberg on a breakaway.

The best look came at the end of the second period, as Marchessault made a great pass to find Theodore streaking alone down the left side. Forsberg was stranded out of position, but Theodore sent his shot wide with an open net staring at him.

“Second period had a chance to extend the lead over and over,” Cassidy said. “The game was there in front of us to extend the lead and go into the third period in a good spot, it just didn’t happen for us.”

3. Expensive goal

Marchessault’s 30th goal matched his career high set in 2016-17 with Florida and again in 2021-22. It also means more bargaining power for the forward in his contract negotiations.

Marchessault is a pending unrestricted free agent and due a raise after carrying a $5 million salary cap hit on his current deal. At 33, this is his last chance for a lucrative long-term contract.

The Knights’ front office must decide whether they can afford to bring back Marchessault with other players such as Stephenson also on expiring contracts. The more goals Marchessault scores, the more his price tag goes up.

In his past 15 games, Marchessault has 13 goals and shows 48 points for the season.

Karlsson picked up the lone assist on Marchessault’s goal, as he knocked the puck away from Stutzle near the right-wing boards. Marchessault pounced on the turnover and was given a clear lane to the net before he beat Forsberg on the backhand at 5:41 of the first period.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on X.

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