The Vegas Golden Knights lost 4-1 to the Arizona Coyotes in Gila River Arena in Glendale on Thursday night. It marks the first win of the season for the Coyotes and the second straight loss for the Golden Knights, who also fell against the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. It’s also Vegas’ first loss in Arizona in franchise history.
Scoring started when Conor Garland bounced a puck off of Nic Hague’s skate eight minutes into the first period. It was otherwise a fine night for the rookie defenseman, who had a 55.33 percent expected goal share and 66.67 percent high-danger share at even strength.
It wasn’t as spectacular a night for the Golden Knights at even strength, however, as they had just a 46.84 percent Corsi and 47.59 percent expected goal share.
Across all strengths, the Golden Knights gave up too many high-danger chances and didn’t get enough on the board at the other end. As Shea Theodore told David Schoen after the game, they “didn’t have enough in-zone time and that definitely shot [them] in the foot.” Gerard Gallant said that the Golden Knights lost the game after the first period, when they allowed two goals.
The Golden Knights got a goal from Shea Theodore at 19:55 of the first period, which also resulted in a Golden Knights power play after Arizona coach Rick Tocchet challenged for goaltender interference, but very little else. The Golden Knights failed to capitalize on the opportunity and the Coyotes scored shortly thereafter as Conor Garland exited the box and scored. Vegas’s power play was able to generate a lot of pressure, including six high-danger chances in the first period, as they had more than four minutes of power-play time and also had 1.05 expected goals for, but they couldn’t generate the same pressure in the second period. The Golden Knights went 0-for-4 on the power play.
The Coyotes got another goal from Garland as well as Nick Schmaltz and Niklas Hjalmarsson during the course of this game.
The Golden Knights weren’t able to generate their usual high-danger chances (at least at even strength), the ones that brought them back-to-back victories against the San Jose Sharks to start the season. Instead, they settled for lesser chances from the perimeter, of which only Theodore’s knuckle puck was successful.
This was another game where Vegas had one play-driving line and the rest were limited, as the first line of William Karlsson, Reilly Smith, and Jonathan Marchessault had a 63.64 percent shot share at 5-on-5 and 79.22 percent expected goal share, although they did allow a goal. Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone were eventually put with Paul Stastny, although their numbers were better with Cody Glass despite a lower offensive zone faceoff percentage with Stastny. It’ll be interesting to see if the Stastny switch is permanent yet, but if Cody Eakin is not ready to go Saturday, Glass should get another shot on the second line.
The third line got shelled yet again, with just a 16.67 percent shot share and 30.70 percent expected goal share. Even if Eakin isn’t ready to go Saturday, something likely needs to change there, and something may need to change in general with the bottom six.
After an excellent start to the game and his first period of the season, Malcolm Subban left the game with an injury (he did not return and Gallant labeled him day-to-day) and was replaced by Marc-Andre Fleury who played in his fourth straight game. Subban made 12 saves on 14 shots (neither goal could be blamed on Malcolm) and Fleury had 13 saves on 15 shots.
Darcy Kuemper made 36 saves on 37 shots in the victory for the Coyotes, picking up his first win.
The Golden Knights will face the Calgary Flames on Saturday in the first part of a back-to-back series this weekend.