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Year 2, Game 20: Golden Knights fall to Blues, lose 4-1

So much for that home winning streak.

NHL: St. Louis Blues at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Vegas’ 5-0 win against Anaheim Wednesday night was decided in the second period when the Golden Knights potted three goals in the span of nine minutes and 10 seconds. Similarly, tonight’s game was decided with a three-goal effort in the second period, but this time it wasn’t Vegas doing the scoring.

Instead, the St. Louis Blues scored three times in the middle frame, including twice in 59 seconds, to take a commanding three-goal lead. The three goals were part of a stretch of four unanswered goals that carried the Blues to a 4-1 victory.

Recap

The Knights got off to a strong start when William Carrier got on the board 6:03 into the first period. Carrier, who took advantage of a bouncing puck that eluded Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson, went five-hole on Jake Allen to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.

But Vegas would hold that lead (or any lead, for that matter) for just 38 seconds, as Ryan O’Reilly quickly knotted things up at 1-1 on this forehand-backhand move, which slipped through Marc-Andre Fleury.

O’Reilly scored his second of the game 7:02 into the middle frame, but that was just the start. The Blues went on to score two more, with Brayden Schenn and Oskar Sundqvist striking within 59 seconds of each other.

Schenn redirected a point shot from Joel Edmundson to give St. Louis a 3-1 lead.

Sundqvist, who scored two goals against Vegas earlier this month, gave the Blues a 4-1 lead less than a minute later with this strong move around Fleury.

Fighting back from deficits has not been a staple of Vegas’ sophomore campaign, and tonight was no exception. A string of penalties in the third period put a potential comeback out of reach.

Analysis

The loss snaps a three-game winning streak on home ice and leaves Vegas that much further from climbing back to .500.

The last two games fall into the all-too-familiar narrative of the Knights’ 2018-19 season: one step forward, two steps back.

Despite the impressive performance against the Ducks, the Knights fell flat in the very next game, failing to capitalize on any momentum they had generated.

Tonight’s game featured an 0-for-3 effort on the power play, which had been one improvement in the Knights’ play in recent games. Also, Fleury’s save percentage dropped below .900 once again; he made 31 saves and finished the game with an .886 save percentage.

The Knights weren’t dominated despite the final score, though. Vegas had a slight edge in 5-on-5 Corsi (52.22 percent), both teams finished with nine high-danger chances at 5-on-5 and the shots were just about even (35-33 in favor of the Blues).

Allen played very well and was forced to make a lot of challenging saves, and the Knights hit the post on multiple occasions (there’s that bad luck rearing its head again). While Fleury gave up four goals, several of them were deflections, and he made a fair number of strong saves himself, including this one.

But at the end of the day, it’s a deflating loss for the Knights, who are desperately searching for some consistency to build on.

At this point, all eyes are on Nate Schmidt, who will return to the lineup for Sunday’s game against the Oilers, a team the Knights struggled against last season. But Vegas will take all the help it can get, and the timing couldn’t be better for Schmidt’s infectious positive attitude and responsible two-way play to come back into the fold.

The Knights, who now hold an 8-11-1 record, hit the road for a three-game stretch, and Sunday’s matchup against Edmonton will be the first of five straight games against Pacific Division opponents.

The time for turning things around is now.