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3 things to take away from the Golden Knights’ 6-4 loss to the Rangers

Reilly Smith was the one bright spot in a should-have-been win.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at New York Rangers
Golden Knights right wing Reilly Smith (19)
Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights are better than this. They proved it for the first two periods against the New York Rangers, when they doubled the Rangers total during both 20-minute sessions.

Reilly Smith scored two goals, and was joined by a great Oscar Lindberg goal. David Perron even buried the first penalty shot in Golden Knights history.

Always nice when you get a first, or at least it’s supposed to be. That’s unfortunately the last goal the Knights scored on the Rangers, who got a season high in goal scoring.

I would mention how the Knights once again took too many penalties in this game, but why repeat myself.

The defense has to clean it up

Too many goals were scored up close, on breakaways (yet again) and perfect screens. That’s four goals that are somewhat out of Max Lagace’s hands, and are on the defense. When you factor in an empty-netter and the Deryk Engelland turnover, that’s five preventable goals from the defense.

Yes, Lagace has to play better. He was much better than his last game, posting a .865 save percentage. That’s almost .250 better than his Islanders outing, but it’s still not excellent, and he really should have had that Pavel Buchnevich goal.

But the defense really needs to get back to playing its game, on their terms. They helped dictate the pace of the game for the first 40 minutes, and the forwards had relentless pressure in the Rangers zone. At one point in the second period, they had Henrik Lundqvist on his back like a turtle.

It seemed like the defensemen were at fault at some point. Whether it was not clearing a screen or paying attention to a guy wide open in front of the net, these mistakes were costly. The defense will need to get back to what they were doing strongly during the home stand and the first two periods. They limited the Rangers to just nine first period shots.

It’s a 60-minute game...

But those 40 minutes only cover so much. The Knights forgot that, and they eventually stopped playing. The offense had just four shots in the third, while the Rangers were shooting 29 in the last two periods.

Those last 20 minutes were deadly. They went from their own pressure to letting the Rangers beat them. The Knights also didn’t do a great job not beating themselves. Turnovers also proved costly.

Turnovers are costly

This play basically summarizes the Knights’ last 20 minutes.

Engelland coughs the puck up in his own zone. That’s bad enough, but Lagace slides too far out of his own net to try and get the stop. Mika Zibanejad is able to find an open Buchnevich, who should have been covered.

The team committed too many turnovers throughout the game. They gave up the puck 12 times. Too many of those were in their own zone. And that ended up being the biggest problem in the third period.