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‘We’ve got to wash this’: Knights head into break after tough loss

The Golden Knights’ goal horn didn’t go off when Jonathan Marchessault roofed a one-timer with 2:18 remaining Saturday.

The team’s goal song, “Vegas Lights” by Panic! at the Disco, never played. The T-Mobile Arena crowd barely reacted until the Knights and the Los Angeles Kings lined up for the subsequent faceoff.

It was an understandable mix-up — the closest official never signaled for a goal — but it seemed all too fitting. The Knights’ offense struggled all night in a 5-1 loss to the Kings that kept the Pacific Division standings somewhat close to start the second half of the season.

It was a stinging defeat the team will have to sit with for a while. The Knights don’t play again until hosting Florida at 7 p.m. Thursday. The four consecutive days without a game constitute their second-longest break of the season, behind their bye week before All-Star Weekend.

“We’ve got to wash this,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “We’ve got some time here to rest and recover and get our game back in order.”

The loss starts the Knights’ second half on a bitter note after a largely successful first half.

They’re still first in the Pacific Division and Western Conference in points (56) and points percentage (.667). They’ve gotten healthier, with defenseman Alec Martinez and forwards Marchessault, Jack Eichel and Paul Cotter returning to the lineup the last two games.

Their special teams — they rank seventh on the power play and 15th on the penalty kill — are soaring.

Tough loss Saturday aside, the Knights have reason to be happy with their recent performances. It’s up to them to build on them coming out of the break.

They held a fan fest downtown Sunday and will take Monday off before practicing twice ahead of the game against the Panthers. The extra time to work through things is a luxury the Knights have seldom had this year. They’re tied for the second-most games played in the NHL (42) with Washington, one behind Los Angeles (43).

Seattle, which is third in the Pacific in points (48) and second in points percentage (.632), has played only 38 games.

“For us, I think it comes at a good time,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It allows some of the other teams in the division to catch up. You get a better idea of the standings when you’ve played a similar amount of games.”

The Knights, once they do retake the ice, have five consecutive home games to build on their lead in the division. Like last season, they’re set to lead the Pacific by the All-Star cutoff Wednesday. That means Cassidy will coach the division during the All-Star Game on Feb. 4 in Sunrise, Florida.

Coach Pete DeBoer did the same at T-Mobile Arena in 2022 before the Knights’ second-half spiral cost them a playoff spot. They have reason to believe this year will be different. It starts with using their break well, and coming back out of the gates firing after an off night Saturday.

“I still like the way we’re playing,” captain Mark Stone said. “This is obviously one of our not-so-great performances of the season, but you’re going to have those, right? You just can’t let them repeat themselves. The good teams, they have one stinker and they get right back in the saddle and they get it going.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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