We all remember what happened the last time the Vegas Golden Knights took on the Edmonton Oilers. It was a bloodbath unsuitable for the eyes of anyone under the age of 18 as hockey deity Connor McDavid scored two goals and added an assist in the 8-2 pounding of the Golden Knights. It was a complete and total beatdown from start to finish.
Granted, the Knights were in a bit of a different place back then. Marc-Andre Fleury, Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk — Vegas’ top three goaltenders — were all dealing with long-term injuries, meaning career AHLer Maxime Lagace had to man the crease against McDavid’s Oilers. Predictably, things ended pretty poorly! The game got so out of hand that 19-year-old goaltender Dylan Ferguson even got some time in net, which, regardless of the game’s result, was pretty neat.
The Golden Knights were in a much better situation in their second tilt with the Oilers, though. This time, Fleury would be guarding the cage. And despite a long stretch of tough games against formidable opponents, Vegas had a 10-1-0 record in their last 11 contests.
Coming off their five-day bye, however, it was fair to wonder if the Golden Knights would look a little rusty coming out of the gate. And they definitely looked like a team that hadn’t been in action for nearly a week. Despite getting a pair of early power play opportunities, the Golden Knights were unable to generate much offense in the first period. Edmonton, on the other hand, still managed to create some chances. One of which coming from birthday boy McDavid while shorthanded.
Had it not been for Fleury, this game very well could have gotten out of hand early.
Vegas finally started to generate consistent offense in the second period, but it was the Oilers who got on the board first. Darnell Nurse joined an Edmonton rush and backhanded a puck in Fleury’s direction. Patrick Maroon, who was crashing the net, had the puck deflect off his skate and trickle past Fleury to give Edmonton the 1-0 lead.
Edmonton wouldn’t have the lead for long, though, thanks to Reilly Smith. Navigating down the right wing with space, Smith managed to creep in on goaltender Cam Talbot and roof one from point-blank range. Easily one of the prettier goals you’ll see all season.
After a couple failed attempts on the power play (which, by the way, has been horrific over the last few weeks), Vegas managed to take the lead with just six seconds remaining in the period. This time, it was William Karlsson beating Talbot, who one-timed a perfect feed from Jonathan Marchessault to put Vegas ahead 2-1.
The back and forth action continued into the final third as Drake Caggiula beat Fleury to tie the game up at two. For the second time in the contest, McDavid, who will probably be celebrating his 21st birthday in Vegas (RIP), picked up a helper.
Caggiula’s game-tying goal effectively sent the contest into overtime, which Vegas was probably okay with. The Golden Knights entered the contest with a 6-0 overtime record.
But that changed Saturday night.
Once again, Caggiula made a play that changed the course of the game. Racing down the right wing, he found Nurse uncovered, who wristed one past Fleury to end the game 3-2.
This is certainly a performance the Golden Knights will want to forget. From the very start, Vegas looked a step behind, which may be a side effect of their long break.
Vegas is now 0-1-1 against the Oilers, despite regularly dominating against the rest of the teams in the Pacific. The team’s biggest letdown was its power play. Going 0-for-6 on the man advantage is never acceptable and it wouldn’t be surprising if head coach Gerard Gallant makes some tweaks before the Knights’ next contest.
Who do the Knights face next, you ask? The Nashville Predators. On the road. It won’t be an easy one. And things won’t be getting any easier for Vegas, either. Following Tuesday night’s game against Nashville, the Knights travel to Florida to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday.
Tonight’s loss may be a bit excusable, but Vegas won’t be able to play like this and expect to win in its next two contests.