Updated October 23, 2021 - 9:06 am
Even the gold chrome helmets couldn’t distract from the Golden Knights’ woes Friday.
Edmonton’s Zack Kassian scored the go-ahead goal on a breakaway early in the third period, and the Knights went on to a 5-3 loss to the Oilers at T-Mobile Arena.
It was the third straight loss for the Knights, who were unable to snatch a point or more despite a strong push in the third period.
“I thought tonight we defended better,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “The other night we wasted a great goalie effort with poor defending. Tonight I thought we defended a lot better, but they’re an opportunistic team. They get a look, they’re sticking it in the net.”
Defenseman Nic Hague tied the score at 3 with a booming slap shot from the point 2:07 into the third period. Nicolas Roy and Nolan Patrick also had goals.
But the Knights were sloppy with the puck in the neutral zone — a turnover by Hague led to Kassian’s goal — and continue to give up high-quality scoring chances by the bunches.
Zach Hyman and Leon Draisaitl scored 1:12 apart in the second period to put the Oilers (5-0) ahead. Each finished with two goals, and Connor McDavid notched two assists to add to his NHL-leading point total.
The Knights trail first-place Edmonton by eight points in the Pacific Division with a game in hand and are six points behind undefeated San Jose.
“We’re on the right track,” defenseman Shea Theodore said. “Tonight, I think was our most complete game. We had a couple lapses in the second to start. With the guys that we’re working with, we need a couple more guys to step up, but we’re on the right track. We have to keep pushing ourselves.”
Here are three takeaways from the game:
1. Another one down
Defenseman Zach Whitecloud was the latest injury casualty, as he departed in the second period after blocking a shot and did not return.
“He’s going for evaluation. But wasn’t good,” DeBoer said.
The Knights were already without defenseman Alec Martinez, who was injured Wednesday in the loss to St. Louis and is listed as day to day.
Forwards Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone were placed on injured reserve this week, according to the roster on the NHL media website.
If Whitecloud misses any significant time, preseason sensation Daniil Miromanov could make his NHL debut Sunday against the New York Islanders. Other options include Peter DiLiberatore, Kaedan Korczak or Derrick Pouliot, who all returned to the Silver Knights’ lineup Friday.
2. Unfair fight
The special teams battle was a mismatch, with the Knights unable to cancel out Edmonton’s star-studded power play.
The Oilers entered clicking at 50 percent and finished 1-for-3 to see that percentage go down. Smith went off for holding in the first period, and Edmonton needed 22 seconds to cash in when Hyman jammed the puck over the line during a massive goalmouth scrum.
Even when the Oilers didn’t score, they were threatening and finished with nine shots on goal on their three power plays.
Meanwhile, the Knights were unable to convert on a five-on-three for 1:38 in the first period and couldn’t cash in during the third period with a chance to tie the score. Smith had the best look, but was turned away by the glove of Mikko Koskinen.
”I think over the last couple years, that’s one spot we can get better at,” Smith said. “Five-on-threes, you have to make sure you get good opportunities to score, and the five guys we had out there are so talented, so we’ve just got to find ways to put pucks in the net and let that talent take over.”
The Knights are 0-for-9 with the man advantage in four games. Their last power-play goal during the regular season came May 8 against St. Louis.
“We got four of our power-play players on (injured reserve) right now, so we’re working some different guys in on different units and different looks,” DeBoer said. “Let’s be honest, we could’ve easily had a couple goals there tonight. You’ve got to give their goalie some credit. It wasn’t like we couldn’t get in and didn’t get looks. Sometimes the other goalie made some big saves or we didn’t cash in on the good opportunities we had.”
3. Good seats available
The announced attendance of 17,978 was officially a sellout and an increase over Wednesday.
But for the second straight game, ticket prices plummeted on the secondary market, and there were several empty seats well after the opening faceoff.
Wednesday’s game against St. Louis was the lowest attendance since Dec. 17, 2017, against Florida. This is the first time the Knights have had consecutive games with fewer than 18,000 in the building since Dec. 17 and 19, 2017.