Updated March 10, 2021 - 8:46 pm
Had the Golden Knights managed to come back and grab at least a point Wednesday, the historic hat trick by defenseman Dylan Coghlan would garner most of the attention.
Instead, it’s a footnote to an otherwise frustrating night.
The Knights allowed three goals in the first 7:41 of the third period — a sequence coach Pete DeBoer described as his team self-destructing — and lost 4-3 to the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.
“We still have a chance to win and get points,” DeBoer said. “The disappointing part for me is it’s still a winnable game going into the third with 20 minutes to play. We didn’t bring it in the third. That’s the disappointing part.”
The Knights (16-6-1) welcomed back captain Mark Stone after he sat out Monday’s game, but were swept for the first time this season in a two-game series and fell to 4-8 all time against Minnesota. They lead St. Louis by a point in the West Division entering a back to back that starts Friday.
Coghlan became the third defenseman in history to score his first three career goals in the same game, joining New Jersey’s Uli Hiemer (Oct. 31, 1984) and Montreal’s Joe Hall (Jan. 21, 1918).
He answered Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 1:42 of the first period and nearly brought the Knights back in the third period.
Coghlan finished off a pass from Alec Martinez with six minutes remaining and wired a shot past Wild goalie Kaapo Kahkonen with 2:10 left to complete the first hat trick by a Knights defenseman.
Winger Alex Tuch had a chance to tie the score in the final seconds but fired a rebound wide of the net from the slot.
“I wish we could have got the win. That would have been the icing on the cake,” said Coghlan, who guessed his last hat trick came when he was 10. “It’s definitely a night I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”
Coghlan’s burst of offense came after goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (25 saves) was pulled with 11:39 remaining shortly after Carson Soucy’s goal put Minnesota ahead 4-1. Logan Thompson made his NHL debut in relief.
Wild rookie standout Kirill Kaprizov broke a 1-1 tie when he deposited a rebound on a power play 1:18 into the third period. Minnesota was last in the league on the power play and hadn’t scored in its 20 previous opportunities before the goal.
Eriksson Ek added his second goal at 5:54 of the third when he poked home a loose puck after Fleury made the initial save for a 3-1 advantage.
“We self-destruct, take a penalty, give up a power-play goal and then push and give up another odd-man goal. Unfortunate,” DeBoer said.
Defenseman Brayden McNabb played his first game since Jan. 26, which eased the loss of defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who returned to Las Vegas for further evaluation on his injured left arm/hand and is out for the “foreseeable future,” according to DeBoer.
Eriksson Ek opened the scoring 19 seconds into the game when he capitalized on a turnover by defenseman Shea Theodore before Coghlan moved in from the point and smashed in a rebound for his first goal in his 12th career game.
But the Knights had trouble generating quality chances after that and finished with 27 shots on goal. Kahkonen extended his personal winning streak to eight games, the longest streak of any goaltender this season.
“We didn’t break the puck out well. We didn’t transition the puck well. Didn’t make proper plays in the o-zone,” Stone said. “Just didn’t get any sustained zone time. Our execution was trash.”