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3 takeaways from Knights’ OT loss: Line shuffle doesn’t pay off

Updated November 27, 2023 - 11:19 pm

The offensive woes of the Golden Knights are now an international issue.

It was once again a struggle to get anything in the net as the Knights fell 2-1 in overtime to the Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, on Monday night. MacKenzie Weegar fired a shot past Adin Hill with just 4.8 seconds remaining in the extra session.

Hill was mostly outstanding in net, saving 32 of 34 shots. But the Knights (14-5-3) couldn’t solve Dan Vladar, who only got the start when Jakob Markstrom fell ill shortly before puck drop.

“It’s hard to win scoring one goal,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It’s hard, and we’re proving that. I thought again it’s another game where we played well enough to win, and if we finish some of those grade A’s (shot opportunities), we’re not talking about another loss.”

Vladar allowed an early power-play goal as the puck fell to William Karlsson on the doorstep after Michael Amadio’s shot was redirected by Nicolas Roy right to Karlsson in the first period.

That was it for the Knights, who have now scored just 12 goals in the last seven games.

“Not our best and not our worst, either,” Roy said. “It just feels right now that we don’t find ways to win. Every team is going to have bad stretches, and we’re in one right now.”

A.J. Greer tied the game for Calgary (9-10-3) early in the third period off a deflection that ended up on his stick as he skated toward the net after coming off the bench on a line change.

The Knights had to kill off a power play that spanned the final minute of regulation and the first minute of the extra session, and then the rest of overtime was contested with four skaters on each side because there were no whistles.

Weegar fired a shot past Hill as he skated down the right side with pace as the final seconds ticked off the clock.

It was the first four-on-four goal allowed by the Knights in 141 games.

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

1. Offensive offense

The Knights once again didn’t have much of an issue generating good chances. They just haven’t been able to finish.

Zach Whitecloud hit a post in the first period, and Jack Eichel followed suit in the second.

Eichel had a chance on a breakaway, as did Ivan Barbashev, who was all alone on Vladar with 8:50 remaining in regulation only to be denied.

Roy also had a few quality looks out front

“Our lack of finishing was certainly there again tonight,” Cassidy said. “We had several chances to extend the lead and couldn’t do it.”

2. Mixing it up

Cassidy scrambled all four forward lines in an effort to spark the offense.

“If you’re changing lines, it usually means something isn’t working,” he said before the game. “At the end of the day, we’ll see if we can jump-start it.”

Cassidy surrounded Eichel with Chandler Stephenson and Mark Stone, plus reunited “Misfits” Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault alongside Barbashev.

A top line featuring Stone’s defense and passing ability along with the speed of Eichel and Stephenson has the potential to be dynamic.

“Both those guys are such great players, and a guy like (Stephenson) can create so much off the rush with his speed and possession game and thinks the game so well,” Eichel said Monday morning. “Then you have a guy like Stone who is one of the smartest players in our league and gets so many pucks back and extends offensive zone shifts and is so great around the net. We played together last year for a bit and had some success.”

Roy and Will Carrier teamed with Amadio, while Brett Howden centered the fourth line between Paul Cotter and Keegan Kolesar.

There was also a lineup change on the blueline, as Brayden Pachal was scratched two days after a pivotal mistake led to a decisive Arizona goal in a loss to the Coyotes.

Kaedan Korczak was recalled from Henderson and was paired with Brayden McNabb on Monday. Whitecloud and Ben Hutton formed the other pair behind Nic Hague and Alex Pietrangelo.

3. Quick turnaround

The Knights will head about three hours due north in Alberta for the second half of a back-to-back in Edmonton on Tuesday.

It may not be the best time to be playing the Oilers.

After struggling mightily early in the season and replacing coach Jay Woodcroft with Kris Knoblauch, Edmonton is looking dangerous again.

The Oilers have won their last two games by a combined 13-2 margin, and superstar Connor McDavid is coming off a five-point night to extend his point streak to four games. He has three goals and nine assists during that span.

Tuesday marks the first of three meetings between the teams this season.

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

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