Updated May 3, 2021 - 10:13 pm
This was all set up to be Peyton Krebs’ night, with coaches and teammates raving about the Golden Knights’ top prospect after his NHL debut Monday.
The 2019 first-round pick provided them with plenty of material, too, including his first career point.
But a shocking collapse late in the third period changed the narrative.
The Knights allowed two goals in the final 1:32 and suffered a crushing 6-5 loss to the Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“That’s about as tough as they get, that kind of loss,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We did a lot of good things. Thankfully, it’s not two weeks from now in a playoff series because that would obviously be a lot harder to take.”
The Knights (36-13-2, 74 points) saw their lead in the West Division shrink after losing a two-goal lead in the third period for the second consecutive game.
With five games remaining, the Knights have a two-point lead over Colorado, which rallied to beat San Jose in overtime and also has a game in hand. Minnesota is four points back in third place.
“We had the game in our hands, and again, we all got to be better,” goalie Robin Lehner said. “I felt like I made a lot of good saves, but I needed to come up with more, and obviously I had a couple of bad ones. I got to figure it out.”
Jonathan Marchessault gave the Knights a 5-3 advantage in the second period when he finished off a pretty passing sequence with Alec Martinez and William Karlsson.
The Knights were in control during the third period, but Minnesota rallied with three goals in the final 9:11.
Kevin Fiala knocked in his own rebound to cut the lead to 5-4. Kirill Kaprizov tied the score with 1:32 left when he pounced on a rebound, and defenseman Jonas Brodin put in the winner 26 seconds later.
Nick Bonino had two goals for the Wild.
“They just capitalized, got some bounces there in the third,” Lehner said. “I have to come up with saves. It’s that simple sometimes. There’s nights like this. You don’t want to have them, but it happens. It’s good it’s now and not in the playoffs.”
The Knights, who could face Minnesota in the first round of the playoffs if they don’t win the division, lost their fifth straight in the season series with the Wild.
They are 1-6 all time in Minnesota, with the win coming in a shootout Oct. 6, 2018.
Krebs, 20, became the youngest player to appear for the Knights after he joined the team for the two games in Minnesota.
With leading goal scorer Max Pacioretty out of the lineup because of an undisclosed injury, Krebs was inserted on the third line.
He picked up an assist in the first period when he pulled up near the blue line and found Alex Tuch flying down the left wing for his 18th goal and a 3-2 advantage.
“I actually thought he was excellent,” DeBoer said. “He jumped right in with both feet. Looked confident. Made plays. I wish I could have gotten him out there a little bit more. He deserved to play a little bit more the way he was playing.”
Minnesota’s first goal came after Lehner made a handful of stops without his stick. Once he retrieved the paddle, it was upside down and Lehner was unable to stop Joel Eriksson Ek’s wrist shot 3:36 into the first.
Later in the first, Lehner tried to catch Matt Dumba’s long shot, but the puck bounced out of his glove and Nick Bonino shoveled it in to tie the score at 2.
The Knights scored on three of their first seven shots against Wild goalie Cam Talbot.
Theodore answered Eriksson Ek’s opener with a wrist shot from the right circle at 4:29 of the first that was helped by a screen from Mattias Janmark.
Minnesota unsuccessfully challenged for goaltender interference, and the Knights took advantage of the power play for a 2-1 lead.
Martinez, who was denied earlier on the man advantage, buried a cross-ice feed from Reilly Smith at 6:05 for his eighth goal.