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3 takeaways from Knights’ win: Early onslaught crushes Coyotes

Updated February 8, 2024 - 8:36 pm

The Golden Knights could not solve Arizona’s Karel Vejmelka on Thursday night. The Coyotes goaltender stopped all 28 shots he faced at Mullett Arena.

Fortunately for the Knights, Vejmelka wasn’t Arizona’s starter. He was only in the game because they scored three times on their first six shots to chase Connor Ingram from the net.

The Knights (31-15-6) made their early onslaught hold up in a 3-2 win. Goaltender Adin Hill made 20 saves to improve to 4-0 since returning from a lower-body injury Jan. 23.

“I think the guys just have a certain level of comfort with him,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He’s calm and relaxed, so that allows others to be calm and relaxed. I think we just feel that with Adin.”

Right wing Jonathan Marchessault scored 19 seconds into the game for the Knights. Defenseman Nic Hague added on 58 seconds later.

It was a fantastic start for the Knights coming off their 3-1 win against Edmonton on Tuesday.

Las Vegas-raised Jason Zucker scored 4:07 into the first period to cut the Coyotes’ deficit to 2-1. Center Chandler Stephenson responded with the Knights’ third tally 2:10 later.

“We were happy with the way we played against Edmonton, so the mindset was to keep it going,” Hague said. “And I thought we did have a great start. We scored that first shift, so that was great to see. Then got up by a couple and it was kind of out of reach at that point.”

Ingram was pulled with 7:40 left in the first period when a fourth puck got behind him. While the goal didn’t count — center William Karlsson’s potential power-play tally was waved off because he batted the puck into the net — Arizona coach Andre Tourigny had seen enough.

The Coyotes almost rallied behind Vejmelka. Right wing Clayton Keller scored 3:40 into the third period to cut his team’s deficit to 3-2, but Arizona couldn’t tie the game.

“We didn’t panic,” Hague said. “We weren’t worried. I thought we shut it down well 6-on-5 at the end. The guys did a great job.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Powerless

The Knights failed to convert on their lone power-play opportunity Thursday. They’ve gone four straight games without a goal on the man advantage.

The Knights also have just one power-play goals their last six games. They’re 1-for-14 in that span.

Cassidy said breaking out of that slump will require better focus on the details, from zone entries to shot selection.

“You have to be able to move the puck to the appropriate places with a certain amount of accuracy and pace to it,” Cassidy said. “The finishing part, if you’re generating and not finishing that happens, but we’re not there. I’d say more urgency in every area, starting with entries.”

2. History

Both teams scored on their first shot on goal for the first time in Knights history.

Marchessault scored after some precise passing from center Nicolas Roy and Ivan Barbashev. It was Marchessault’s team-leading 26th goal of the season.

Zucker’s tally was his eighth of the year.

3. Tiny house

The Coyotes are in their second season at Arizona State’s on-campus arena, which seats around 5,000.

No one views the venue as a long-term solution and the team’s search for a permanent home is ongoing. But Cassidy said Mullett Arena isn’t too bad for a visiting team.

“I would think guys would like it,” Cassidy said. “They wouldn’t like it every night, but why not every once in awhile? It probably takes you back to some level, whether you were a college player or a junior player, some more friendly confines. I think every once in awhile the guys should enjoy it.”

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

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