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3 takeaways from Knights’ loss: Welcome break after point streak ends

Updated January 27, 2024 - 8:22 pm

The Golden Knights are going to have a long time to think about what went wrong in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit.

They are now off until Feb. 6 after having their six-game point streak snapped.

Things started to slip away early.

Dylan Larkin and Jake Walman scored in the first seven minutes of the game to put the Knights (29-15-6) on the ropes, but Ivan Barbashev and Paul Cotter answered in a 2:53 span midway through the first period to tie the game.

“I liked our battle level and our compete level tonight,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We got down two early at the end of a long road trip and got ourselves back in the game by scoring gritty goals around the front of the net.”

The Knights couldn’t take advantage of the quick response, however, as Joe Veleno put the Red Wings (26-18-5) back in front for good with a power-play goal late in the first period.

Both goalies were up to the challenge of a chance-filled second period, but Andre Copp scored an insurance goal midway through the third period and Larkin added an empty-net tally in the final 90 seconds. Moritz Seider had two assists for the Red Wings.

“They get one and we don’t on special teams,” captain Mark Stone said. “Then we’re trying to push at the end, and they get a late one off a rush. We’re not generating anything on our power play. We have to get back to the drawing board there.”

The Knights took five points out of the four-game trip leading into the break.

“Good trip that we had a chance to make great tonight,” Stone said. “We get five out of eight, though. Pretty solid. You’re not going to win them all, but we would have liked to go home with a win tonight.”

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. It’s math

The Knights have been doing most of their damage on this trip at the front of the net.

It happened again Saturday night.

Both of the first period goals came right in front of Detroit goaltender Alex Lyon. Barbashev dove to knock in a rebound, and Cotter got his stick on a slapshot just outside the crease to redirect it past Lyon.

It’s all part of a concerted effort by the team, according to Cassidy.

“We’ve tried to build more of that into our game,” he said late Friday after the Knights’ win in New York. “We did a deep dive on the analytics, and we’re getting outscored in the slot battle. It’s an area we’ve taken a lot of pride in, and I don’t believe it happened as much last year. So we’re focused on it, and good for the guys for getting there.”

2. Amadio returns

Michael Amadio was in the lineup for the first time since Jan. 15, playing on a line with Brett Howden and Sheldon Rempal.

Amadio had not played since Jan. 15 with an upper-body injury and had been on injured reserve since Jan. 19. He was activated just before the game.

His return came just in time, as the Knights were without forward Pavel Dorofeyev after he took an elbow to the head from Jacob Trouba during the second period of Friday’s game and did not return.

Trouba had a disciplinary hearing with the league Saturday and was suspended for two games.

Dorofeyev and the rest of the team’s injured players will now have some time to heal up and rest after a busy first four months of the season. No team has played more than the 50 games the Knights have through Saturday, but a respite is on the way.

The Knights have the week off leading up to the All-Star break, and none of the players are slated to participate in the event, meaning they will all next be in action on Feb. 6 at home against the red-hot Oilers. Edmonton will look to tie an NHL record with a 17th consecutive victory when it visits T-Mobile Arena.

3. They’re ready

The fans at Little Caesars Arena were fired up about the victory over the Knights, but they also clearly had one eye on Sunday’s NFC championship game against the 49ers.

On several occasions throughout the game, the crowd started loudly cheering the name of Lions quarterback Jared Goff.

Knights defenseman Alec Martinez may have found it difficult to join in. Martinez, a massive Lions fan, is from the area.

Paul Cotter is also a local, which is part of the reason Cassidy put them both on the ice to start the game.

While they didn’t get the outcome they wanted, the pair did have some individual success. Martinez had two assists, including one on Cotter’s goal in the first period.

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

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