Before getting into this recap, why don’t we take a moment to talk a bit about the concept of sports, yes?
The exact definition of what we refer to as “sport” is as follows:
plural noun: sports
an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.
Ah. There’s that magic word I was looking for.
So sports are meant to entertain. Well, what is it called when sports do the exact opposite of entertain, rather inflicting boredom and demoralization on all parties involved?
That, ladies and gentlemen, is what you call Friday night’s Vegas Golden Knights hockey game.
A win over the Minnesota Wild would have propelled Vegas past the Tampa Bay Lightning for the league lead in points. But unfortunately for the Golden Knights, the Wild came to play Friday night, whereas they simply didn’t.
Minnesota had the Golden Knights pinned in their own zone for the majority of the game, but especially in first period. Malcolm Subban stood on his head to keep the Wild at bay, but it was only a matter of time before Minnesota took advantage of Vegas’ leaky defense.
Minnesota would add another goal just a few minutes later as Charlie Coyle beat Subban from the left faceoff circle. It was a great shot by Coyle, but Joel Eriksson Ek deserves some credit for blocking Subban’s view of the puck carrier.
The Golden Knights were outshot 19-8 and looked completely overwhelmed after 20 minutes. The Wild were skating circles around them. Literally.
Things didn’t get much better for Vegas in the second period. Just two minutes in, Tyler Ennis beat Subban with a wrister from the far faceoff circle to give Minnesota the three-goal lead. Not a goal Subban will be proud of.
But this time, the Golden Knights responded! Erik Haula deflected a Colin Miller wrist shot from the point to score against his former team, cutting Minnesota’s lead to two goals.
Minnesota would reclaim their three-goal lead, though. With just 10 seconds remaining on a Wild man advantage, Jared Spurgeon deflected a puck off of Brayden McNabb’s skate, which trickled past Subban to extend Minnesota’s lead. The Golden Knights failed to clear the puck throughout this entire man advantage.
As the period died down, Ryan Carpenter, who cracked the lineup for the first time since Jan. 19, dropped the gloves with Matt Dumba. This came in response to an attempted (clean) hit by Dumba on Haula.
The third period was rather uneventful for both teams. At least until Nate Schmidt (a St. Cloud, Minnesota native) scored his fourth goal of the season to cut the Wild lead to two goals again.
There would be no miracle comeback on this night, though. With about 90 seconds remaining in the game, David Perron hooked Eric Staal on an empty-net breakaway, which gave Minnesota an automatic goal. Staal was awarded his 22nd goal of the season, which secured the 5-2 win for the Wild.
This was not the Golden Knights team we’ve come so accustomed to seeing on a nightly basis. This team was outskated and downright outplayed by the Wild in embarrassing fashion.
That said, playing a tough Winnipeg Jets team, traveling to Minnesota overnight and facing a hungry Minnesota team less than 24 hours later is no easy task. Taking that into account, it’s easy to understand why the Golden Knights looked so fatigued.
Vegas will want to immediately put this one in the rear-view. If the Lightning lose against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday, Vegas will have another opportunity to reclaim the top spot in the standings with a win against the Washington Capitals on Super Bowl Sunday.