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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: New forward’s debut spoiled

Updated April 8, 2024 - 10:20 pm

The Golden Knights learned what it’s like to play the Vancouver Canucks at their best.

They can be annoying when locked in on defense.

The Knights scored three times, but were held to 23 shots in a 4-3 loss to the Canucks at Rogers Arena on Monday. It was the team’s second consecutive defeat in regulation.

“We needed to do one goal better,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I don’t think it was a one-sided game for either team.”

The Knights (42-27-8) did get the better of Vancouver on April 2 in a 6-3 victory at T-Mobile Arena that extended their point streak to seven games.

Things were much different in Monday’s rematch. The loss kept the Knights’ magic number to clinch a sixth playoff berth in seven years at three points. They hold a five-point lead for the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference on the St. Louis Blues with five games remaining in the regular season.

Center Jack Eichel had two goals and an assist for the Knights, who dropped consecutive games for the first time since losing four in a row from Feb. 29 to March 7. Goaltender Logan Thompson made 26 saves and defenseman Noah Hanifin scored his second goal since coming over from Calgary before the trade deadline.

“They’re a good hockey team. There’s a reason (the Canucks) are where they are in the standings,” Eichel said. “I thought there was stretches of the game we controlled it and others where they had momentum.”

The Knights couldn’t have asked for a better start.

Eichel scored twice in the first 8:06 to give his team a 2-0 lead. His first goal came on the power play 1:51 into the game. His second came off a cross-ice pass from right wing Jonathan Marchessault.

Penalties got the Canucks back into the game. They didn’t take long to respond.

Vancouver scored twice on the power play 2:34 apart to tie things 2-2. Right wing Conor Garland scored the first of his two goals off a rebound with 8:10 left in the first period. Defenseman Quinn Hughes tied the game with a shot from the point 2:36 later.

Hanifin gave the Knights the lead back 9:33 into the second period, but the Canucks answered once again.

Right wing Brock Boeser scored his 40th goal of the season with 6:50 left in the second. Garland followed that up by giving Vancouver the lead with his second goal with 1:29 remaining until the second intermission.

The Canucks shut down the Knights from that point on. Goaltender Artus Silovs stopped all eight shots he faced in the third period to improve to 3-0-0 this season.

The Knights’ road trip doesn’t get any easier from here. They face the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

“It’s frustrating. We had a lead and we don’t get any points here,” Eichel said. “Just got to go into Edmonton and find a way to win.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Hertl’s debut

Left wing Tomas Hertl played his first game with the Knights since being acquired in a blockbuster deal with the San Jose Sharks on March 8.

Hertl played 20:20 and got an assist on Hanifin’s goal after winning a faceoff.

“First game in a long time, I wasn’t bad,” said Hertl, who had not played since Jan. 27 due to left knee surgery. “But I know I will be better. Nice to be back on the ice.”

Cassidy started the longtime center on the wing, but Hertl was used on nine draws. Hertl won three faceoffs when Thompson was pulled late in the game for an extra attacker.

“I thought he was awesome,” Eichel said. “He looked comfortable out there.”

2. No resistance

Vancouver scored all four of its goals by either screening Thompson or crashing the net.

Garland’s goals traveled 5 feet and 3 feet, respectively. He got behind the defense to bury rebounds both times. Boeser and Hughes’ goals came with center Elias Pettersson screening Thompson.

The Knights did a good job protecting their crease during their seven-game point streak from March 21 to April 2. They’ve reverted to bad habits the last two games.

“They were just better around our net,” Eichel said. “We didn’t finish the second and third opportunities around their net. That was the difference.”

3. Cotter in, Brisson out

Left wing Paul Cotter was moved to the fourth line with Hertl joining the lineup. Cotter skated with center Brett Howden and right wing Keegan Kolesar in place of rookie Brendan Brisson.

The new fourth line’s play was more negative than positive. Howden committed two of the Knights’ three penalties, including the one that led to Garland’s first goal.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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