With James Neal, Shea Theodore and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare all out of the lineup Monday night, the Vegas Golden Knights had to shuffle things up a bit in their fourth meeting with the Anaheim Ducks, adding AHLers Tomas Hyka and Stefan Matteau as last-minute additions to the lineup.
Having never lost to Anaheim in the history of time (they’ve won in all three of their meetings against the Ducks) Vegas would basically have to beat the Ducks with a makeshift bottom-six.
Predictably, Vegas played an uncharacteristically sloppy game, which certainly had a lot to do with the late lineup changes.
After a mostly slow start to the game, Anaheim eventually got on the board first as Jakob Silfverberg deflected an Andrew Cogliano wrister past Fleury at the 13:32 mark.
Vegas had a couple nice looks in the opening period, but Ducks goaltender John Gibson wasn’t letting anything past him. They’d finish the first period with just eight shots on goal.
Vegas was quiet again in the second period, as they managed just five shots on goal through the middle third. A pair of gaffes by David Perron and William Karlsson in the offensive zone certainly didn’t do Vegas much good, either.
Anaheim, on the other hand, managed to challenge Marc-Andre Fleury with their occasional scoring opportunities.
Late in the period, Ryan Getzlaf sniped one past Fleury to (seemingly) double the Anaheim lead.
Following the goal, though, Gerard Gallant challenged the call on the ice after it appeared Rickard Rakell was offside when entering the Vegas zone.
After review, the ruling on the ice was overturned. Rakell’s skate clearly came off the blueline prior to the puck entering Vegas’ zone. Very lucky break for the Golden Knights.
The second period would end with the same 1-0 score. Through 40 minutes, both teams combined for just 25 shots on goal.
There was a bit of drama at the end of the middle third, though. Gibson would leave the game after Reilly Smith incidentally clipped his skate while pursuing a loose puck.
Ryan Miller would finish the game in net for Anaheim as Gibson stayed in the back room.
Down a goal in the third period and a backup goalie in the Ducks’ net, one would expect Vegas to come out fast and furious and tie the game up like they’d done so many times before. But that didn’t end up happening. Just 7:01 into the third, Josh Manson deflected a Getzlaf shot (or pass?) through Fleury’s five-hole to double the Anaheim lead.
Manson’s goal would ultimately spell the end for Vegas in this one, as they were unable to get anything past Miller in the final third. For the third time this season, Vegas was shutout. This time, they were blanked by a score of 2-0.
This was an ugly effort by Vegas from start to finish. Granted, both Gibson and Miller played extremely well in net and having Neal out of the lineup was less than ideal, but the Golden Knights simply didn’t look like themselves. The gaffes in the offensive zone, the inability to create quality scoring chances and the overall lack of get-up from Vegas was just atypical of what we’re used to seeing from (currently) the best team in the NHL.
Vegas will be back in the T-Mobile Arena Wednesday night against the Calgary Flames. By then, Neal and Theodore may be ready to return to the lineup. Until then, let’s just erase this game from the memory bank.