The Vegas Golden Knights lost at home in regulation for the first time since Nov. 28 as the New York Islanders picked up a 2-1 win. This came off the back of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who made 38 (of a possible 39) saves for the Islanders.
This was the final game for the Golden Knights before the All-Star break, as Marc-Andre Fleury and James Neal head to Tampa to play amongst the NHL’s elite. It’s not a great way to go to break, even if the Knights were a lot closer to winning than the 2-1 deficit would indicate.
If not for Halak, this would have been the Knights' game to lose. They controlled the puck, generated chances and looked dangerous all night. Sometimes, though, a hot goaltender can win a game for his team.
Fleury had 30 minutes of a shutout, but his defense prevented him from getting more. The Knights made costly errors in their own zone, as Cody Eakin tipped a puck into the net and Colin Miller had a turnover leading to Jordan Eberle‘s goal.
After a scoreless first period in which Fleury made nine saves and Halak made 13, scoring opened 10 minutes into the second:
It depends on how you look at it, but that's either Ross Johnston's first goal of his career or Eakin's seventh of the year. Either way, it's not good. Eakin deflects it between Fleury's pads, and it's in.
The trend of Golden Knights ending goal scorer's droughts or giving them their first goals needs to end. It's different when it's players like Eberle or Mathew Barzal, who are expected to score. But when a player comes in on a 20-game goal drought to play the Knights, it seems like that drought always ends.
Speaking of Eberle and Barzal:
This is a simple play by the Islanders. On the Knights' end, however, this is hectic. Brad Hunt is circling, trying to figure out who to defend. Not something that should be happening at the NHL level.
Neal is down trying to block the shot, which Eberle elevates past him. Finally, Miller was taken out of the play earlier and gets back just in time to defend the side of the net the puck just went into. Fun.
Hey, at least the Knights weren't shutout:
Erik Haula puts the tip of his blade on the puck that David Perron sent whistling towards the net, and it's between Halak's pads. A power-play goal for the Knights and Haula is back on the scoreboard. The Knights did make one final, valiant push towards the end of the game:
They pushed for it, but it didn't come. That's what happens when the opposing goaltender gets Death Valley hot.
This was such a weird game that Jason Garrison playing nearly 19 minutes gets lost in the shuffle. Shea Theodore actually played the most of any Knight, with 24 minutes, but his five-game streak of not letting up a goal came to an end thanks to that Eakin play.
The Golden Knights return to action on Jan. 30 in Calgary to face the Flames. In the meantime, Neal and Fleury will hope to lead the Pacific Division to victory in the All-Star Tournament.