The Vegas Golden Knights, after a tragic first period, came back in the second and third to force overtime against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Max Lagace stopped 16 straight shots and got the Golden Knights to a shootout. Unfortunately, they were unable to solve Frederik Andersen.
Show Your Moves
In the shootout, Mitch Marner was first up. He scored. Which is fine, because surely the Golden Knights would bounce back and score one of their own, right?
Nope. The Golden Knights had three forwards take a shot in the shootout — Erik Haula, James Neal and David Perron. None of them got the puck into the net. Some of this is because of great breakaway goaltending by Andersen, which was there most of the night. But it’s also on the forwards.
We’ve given credit to the Knights for their simplified hockey. It’s won them nine games so far this season, and that’s a great thing. In the shootout, however, simplicity isn’t a recipe for success.
Watching the best shootout goals, they’re quite often the exact opposite. They involve complex moves as skaters operate the puck around the netminder. That wasn’t something the Knights did. The forwards need to be a little more creative during shootouts.
The Knights Can Rebound
That 3-1 bashing in the first period should have been the end of the game. The Maple Leafs were getting the best of the Knights, and it was showing. It was evident that the ice was tilted in Toronto’s favor.
As the game went on, though, the Knights improved drastically. That’s a rare thing for the Knights, especially on this road trip. The bad moments against the Islanders and the Rangers were not present against the Maple Leafs.
After the Knights made their adjustments in the second period, the third was the best in regulation. They were getting more pucks on net and the defense had tightened up in their own zone. Lagace also improved as time went on.
This is an important lesson to learn. The Knights can rebound. They can overcome obstacles during games and make crucial adjustments. So if the Knights are ever put in this situation again, know not to give up. The Knights won’t.
There’s A Sniper In All Of Us
Deryk Engelland’s snipe was the highlight of the night. Not only did it tie the game up, but it was a beauty of a goal. Right over the shoulder of Andersen, and right in the corner of the net. Engelland had entered the zone by himself off a pass by Shea Theodore and scored a momentum-shifting goal.
It seems every member of the Knights’ roster can score a crucial goal. Engelland had already scored a goal this season, in the emotional home opener against the Coyotes. But this one was different. Even Engelland seemed shocked by it.
At the end of the day, the Golden Knights are NHLers for a reason. Everyone on the team has the potential to pull of what Engelland pulled off against Toronto.
Fix the Traffic Jam
All three regulation goals came with multiple Leafs in or near the blue paint. While every shot can theoretically be saved, shots from that area are significantly harder to stop.
The Knights did a good job of cleaning this up as time went on. But the fact the Leafs were there in the first place is troubling. They were crowding Lagace and beating him to rebounds because they were so close. Sometimes, even, they were closer to the puck. The defense needs to force guys in the paint to the outside, or at least do it more consistently.
There can’t be three forwards in that part of the ice at the same time again. That’s just asking for trouble.