Updated November 27, 2022 - 10:57 am
J.T. Miller moved the puck left, right, left.
The Vancouver Canucks right wing was right in front of the Golden Knights’ net, but he had time to make a move. There was no one close enough to stop him.
Miller was patient before sliding the puck to center Bo Horvat, who promptly slammed it into the Knights’ net for a 5-0 lead with two seconds left in the second period. Some of the announced crowd of 18,004 at T-Mobile Arena booed. Some sat in stunned silence. Some headed for the exits.
All reactions were understandable. The Knights, a day after coach Bruce Cassidy said they were “outplayed” in a 4-2 home loss to Seattle, put in one of their worst performances of the season against the Canucks in a 5-1 loss Saturday.
They tied a season high in goals allowed to lose to Vancouver in regulation for only the second time in 16 meetings.
“That’s a tough one,” left wing Reilly Smith said. “I think we came out with a good start, and special teams let us down. When you’re not able to get back any momentum on the penalty kill, it’s tough. And I think we really just kept on digging ourselves a bigger hole as the game went on.”
T-Mobile Arena started off energetic.
The Knights (16-6-1) wore their new, glow-in-the-dark Reverse Retro jerseys for the first time, and the team prepared new in-game elements for the occasion. There was a fresh intro video and the debut of a “Let’s go Vegas” chant.
The Knights’ performance in their fifth game in eight days slowly drained the life from the building.
Vancouver’s power-play struck twice in the first period thanks to goals from right wing Brock Boeser and Miller. The Canucks (8-10-3) added another one on the man advantage with 8:27 left in the second off a one-timer from center Elias Pettersson.
Vancouver still wouldn’t let up.
Right wing Andrei Kuzmenko scored the Canuck’s first five-on-five goal with 6:41 left in the period after being allowed to skate down the slot unguarded. Horvat’s buzzer-beater was the cherry on top.
The Knights broke up goaltender Spencer Martin’s shutout with a goal from right wing Jonathan Marchessault with 3:17 remaining, but that was about their only highlight. Goaltender Logan Thompson, under siege almost the entire game, allowed five goals on 36 shots to fall to 7-2 in November.
The loss dropped the Knights to 3-4-1 their last eight games, and 2-4 at home in that span.
“It went worse in the second, unfortunately, where they got really hungry,” Cassidy said. “They kept their foot on the gas. We were soft in certain areas. We weren’t competitive enough. We didn’t win our races. Now we’re running around, we’re late to everything.”
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
1. Penalty-kill problem
The Knights didn’t only allow a season-high three power-play goals on five opportunities Saturday. They allowed them in a minute.
Boeser scored 10 seconds into the Canucks’ first power play. Miller struck in five seconds. Pettersson’s goal came 45 seconds into Vancouver’s fourth opportunity.
The three power-play goals were a season high for the Canucks, who now have the NHL’s second-best unit behind Colorado. The Knights’ 25th-ranked penalty kill is 5-for-9 its last three games.
“Obviously, the penalty kill wasn’t where we wanted it to be,” defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said.
2. Fight night
Two Knights vented some of their frustration late in the game.
Marchessault, listed at 5 feet, 9 inches, 183 pounds, fought Vancouver left wing Conor Garland, listed at 5-10, 165, 8:36 into the third period. It was Marchessault’s third NHL fight and Garland’s first, according to the website Hockey Fights.
Right wing Keegan Kolesar and left wing Dakota Joshua also dropped the gloves with 6:37 left in the game. They were the third and fourth fights of the Knights’ season.
3. Knights killers
Boeser and Pettersson always seem to make an impact when the two teams meet.
Boeser’s goal was his sixth in 11 appearances against the Knights. Pettersson has scored seven in 11 games. The two are both on a hot streak as well.
Boeser extended his point streak to nine games, and Pettersson stretched his to five.