The Golden Knights, through 24 games, have proven tough to hang with 5-on-5. But 3-on-3? That’s a different story.
The Knights lost 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks in overtime Thursday at T-Mobile Arena, dropping them to 0-4 in overtime this season. They also have two shootout wins. Those dropped four points are the difference between the Knights being five points out of first place in the Pacific Division, as they are currently, or one point back with the chance to overtake the Edmonton Oilers in their meeting Saturday.
“They’re big points and it’s tough giving them up in overtime,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “It’s something we’ll figure out and we’re pretty confident with the guys who are out there. It’s something I’m sure we’ll work on at some point.”
The Knights’ stats at 5-on-5 are impressive, with a 52.31 shot attempts percentage (seventh in the NHL), 53.71 scoring chance percentage (fourth) and 51.33 high-danger scoring chance percentage (12th). Those numbers plummet in overtime.
The Knights have attempted more shots than their opponent in overtime just once this season, Oct. 22 in Chicago. That’s also the only game they had more high-danger scoring chances.
Through six overtime games they trail their opponents in shot attempts 26-21, scoring chances 20-12 and high-danger scoring chances 10-4.
Thursday was one of the Knights’ better overtime efforts. They edged the Sharks 4-3 in scoring chances and defenseman Nate Schmidt and center William Karlsson both had looks that could’ve ended it.
“I thought tonight it was the best it’s been all year to be honest with you,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “I hate saying that when we lose, but I thought we did a good job tonight creating chances and attacking.”
It was the Sharks, though, that broke through.
With 1:52 remaining, rookie Cody Glass fire a wrist shot from just above the left circle. The puck bounced off Sharks goaltender Aaron Dell’s left pad to defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Knights defenseman Shea Theodore, after seeing the shot, pinched aggressively to go after the rebound but was caught out of position. Vlasic nudged a touch pass past Theodore and sent center Logan Couture on a breakaway.
Couture shot just before a backchecking Max Pacioretty caught him and then pushed his own rebound into the net.
“I thought tonight we did a real good job for the most part, but obviously giving up those breakaways, you can’t do that,” Gallant said. “That’s just a bad read and a little bit of luck by them.”
It might take a little bit of luck for the Knights to get an overtime goal, too. They haven’t scored in their past 11 chances dating back to last season.
While 3-on-3 overtime is a little bit of a “crapshoot,” as center Paul Stastny termed it, coming up empty 11 straight times should signal to the Knights they need to change things. At 11-9-4, they aren’t at liberty to give points away. And the ones available in overtime count the same as the ones in regulation.
“Unfortunately, Glass had that shot and the D just poked it, just changed the angle a bit to get it past (Theodore) and they made a breakaway,” Stastny said. “You can’t ask (goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury) to stop three breakaways in overtime.”