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Golden Knights lose to Avalanche in outdoor game after long delay

Updated February 21, 2021 - 3:38 am

STATELINE — The lights at the outdoor rink stayed on after hours, and the Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche had special permission to be out late.

Good thing it wasn’t a school night.

After an eight-hour delay caused by poor ice conditions on a sun-splashed afternoon, the teams returned to the rink on the 18th fairway at Edgewood Tahoe Resort late Saturday to pick up where they left off.

The Knights came with a better effort than earlier in the day but dropped a 3-2 decision to Colorado at NHL Outdoors.

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal in the second period and set up another in the third to hand the Knights their second straight one-goal loss.

The teams conclude the four-game series Monday at Colorado.

“Obviously I’ll remember this experience,” Knights defenseman Alec Martinez said. “As for the game, it’s pretty disappointing. These are some big points and certainly two that we wish we would have gotten.”

The game was suspended after the first period when the ice surface near the shores of Lake Tahoe deteriorated under the bright sun. Play resumed at 9 p.m. local time with Colorado leading 1-0 after an early goal by defenseman Samuel Girard.

“The ice tonight was phenomenal,” winger Alex Tuch said. “It was like I was skating on my backyard ice rink back when I was a kid. It was like glass out there.”

The Knights regrouped during the afternoon break after being outshot 17-8 in the first period. Martinez put home a rebound exactly nine hours after Girard’s goal to tie the score at 7:37 of the second period.

But MacKinnon answered less than four minutes later to put the Avalanche ahead 2-1.

MacKinnon stole the puck from Knights right wing Mark Stone in the neutral zone and then picked up a pass in his own zone. He skated past Stone near the red line and moved wide around defenseman Alex Pietrangelo before firing a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury.

Colorado defenseman Devon Toews gave the Avalanche a 3-1 lead at 13:11 of the third period when his shot from distance beat Fleury, who was screened. MacKinnon had the primary assist for his third point.

Fleury finished with 36 stops, but dropped to 0-3-0 lifetime in outdoor games.

“It was a strange day,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “I mean, obviously the excitement of the game this morning. I think the disappointment with our first period as a team. I didn’t like how we played.

“I thought we came out and reset and played two pretty hard periods here tonight. Unfortunately, we were chasing the game right from the drop of the puck this morning.”

The Knights cut the lead to 3-2 when Tuch made a pretty spin move in front of the net and scored on a backhand with 5:35 remaining.

“It was kind of similar to earlier in the season I had a backhand goal,” Tuch said. “I just closed my eyes and tried to get the puck on net. I think it ramped up the goalie’s stick. And you know what, I just wanted to try to get myself and the puck to the front of the net, and I got pretty lucky there.”

But the Knights managed one shot on goal in the final 4:35, a 59-foot wrist shot from Pietrangelo with time ticking down.

The Knights finished 0-for-4 on the power play and squandered a five-on-three for 1:22 early in the third period with a chance to tie the score.

“Spectacular setting, spectacular venue, two real good teams that were excited to play,” DeBoer said. “Everyone’s disappointed we didn’t get to play 60 minutes this morning, but we found a way to get the game done. Obviously not perfect, but a lot of positives from what went on here.”

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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