The Winnipeg Jets were likely eager to welcome the Vegas Golden Knights to their Manitoba home. After all, the Jets had an 8-0-2 record when starting Connor Hellebuyck in their barn coming into this game. Surely the struggling Knights would be the ones to end that streak, eh?
In short: nope. It’s hard to find positives in this 7-4 loss to the Jets, despite the fact that the Golden Knights scored four times.
Eleven Knights players walked away from the game with a point. Colin Miller scored a goal and an assist, but his night was far from purely positive, as he was also whistled for a penalty — a retaliatory one — that led to a Jets power play goal. On top of that, the first Winnipeg goal came from a deflection off his stick and behind Maxime Lagace.
The Knights penalty kill did not look great, killing just two of five opportunities. The power play also looked out of sync, continuing their goalless streak with a 0-for-5 effort. The special teams units will have to step up if the Knights are going to stop their losing streak.
The biggest turning point of the night was a disallowed power-play goal by Miller. An otherwise strongly performing Alex Tuch was the culprit, lifting his back skate to get around a Jets penalty killer and, in the process, going offsides:
Jets think it's offsides. Looks like they're right. pic.twitter.com/HWdxaCwxLE— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 2, 2017
Following the reversal, the Jets established a dominant game and never let go, ending the game scoring six goals versus the Knights’ two in the final 40 minutes.
Early on, the Knights established their own strong attack, skating into high-danger areas and getting rewarded with greasy goals, like this one from William Karlsson:
That deflection represented Karlsson’s fourteenth goal of the year, and it shows how well the Knights attacked early. Cody Eakin’s fourth goal, prior to this one, also came from the crease, but his was less pretty.
The Knights were getting shots to the net in the first, and actually outshot the Jets, 17-14 in the opening frame. That was the lone time they did that in this game.
After the disallowed goal, Matt Hendricks, fresh from a visit to the locker room after taking a skate to the face, scored this goal:
Before I got home: Golden Knights take 2-1 lead.— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 2, 2017
Since I got home: VGK goal taken away, Matt Hendricks scores game-tying goal after almost dying. pic.twitter.com/wEBODmUut4
That tied things up. Now, if it’s any Knights goaltender not named Maxime Lagace, they likely make that stop. That rationale could be applied tor a few of the Jets’ goals in this game. But at the same time, during that entire play, Jon Merrill played the situation incorrectly. He was too far from his man entering the zone, never closed the gap, allowing Hendricks plenty of time to shoot. And that’s not Merrill’s last bad play.
The Knights entered the third period tied but were shortly playing with a serious deficit, as the Jets scored a trio of goals within the span of seven minutes. The worst of the bunch was this one:
Oh hey look the Jets' fourth unanswered goal that's fun pic.twitter.com/mTJDUOQUeA— Ryan Quigley (@RP_Quigs) December 2, 2017
That goal made it 5-2. It looks like that’s Nate Schmidt battling in front of the net, trying to keep his man away. Oscar Lindberg is attempting to neutralize Nikolaj Ehlers, and Merrill is... well, it’s hard to say.
In short, despite garbage time beauties like this one from Erik Haula, the Golden Knights again came up just short of anything resembling a complete hockey game.
The Golden Knights will look to do better Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes, who have managed to play the role of a soft opponent when the Knights have needed one. And boy, does Vegas need one now.