The Vegas Golden Knights probably should have realized they were in for a long day when they allowed their fastest goal to start a game so far this season against the Colorado Avalanche. In the end, Colorado handed the Knights a 6-1 defeat Friday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena, spoiling Nevada Day in convincing fashion.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare got his revenge pretty quickly out of the gate against his former team, scoring just 28 seconds into the game off an own-zone turnover by Mark Stone. Colorado would not stop scoring from there, though; they added another goal in the first period before collecting three more in the second. Bellemare would factor in on two more goals in what became the first three-point performance of his NHL career.
William Karlsson scored his first non-empty net goal for the Golden Knights this season in the first period, making it a 1-1 game with 90 seconds left in the opening frame. Karlsson’s goal came off an excellent zone entry by Cody Glass and a sweet setup by Reilly Smith.
But Nazem Kadri re-gained the Avs’ lead just 43 seconds later, and it was all Colorado from there on out.
This was objectively the worst game Vegas has played this season.
Reilly Smith called the first period the worst of the season, but then the team went out and delivered... an even worse one.
If any Golden Knight had a good game, it was Max Pacioretty, but even he couldn’t get a goal despite multiple great chances. He has seemed to be snake-bitten at times this season, and this game was no different. His 59.26 percent Corsi, 50 percent shot share, and 65.35 percent expected goal share all led the team.
But this was a bad game all around, and Vegas just couldn’t get themselves off the ground.
The Golden Knights combined for a 41.75 percent Corsi, 40.68 percent shot share and 46.82 percent expected goal share and couldn’t contain Colorado’s speed. Nobody was truly excellent, and the Knights let Colorado dominate them for 40 minutes until, as head coach Gerard Gallant said, the Avalanche took their foot off the pedal so as not to embarrass Vegas.
In addition, the Vegas power play had nearly six and a half minutes of action but had the same number of expected goals for as they did against (.4 in both directions) and allowed one goal against without scoring one.
The Golden Knights need their power play to be better, and they began experimenting with combinations near the end of the game (although they were experimenting with all line combinations in the third period, including putting out a line of Tomas Nosek, Paul Stastny and Cody Eakin).
The penalty kill allowed one goal against and wasn’t as aggressive as usual. The special teams weren’t strong in this game, and that made the even-strength woes even worse.
Marc-Andre Fleury made his obligatory jaw-dropping saves early on.
While he made 22 saves on 26 shots and outperformed his stats once again, he ultimately was relieved by backup netminder Garret Sparks, who entered the game at 4-1 in the middle of the second period.
The Avalanche were without Mikko Rantanten for the first time this season but linemate Nathan MacKinnon didn’t miss a beat, as he had excellent possession stats and two points in this game, including the primary assist on Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar’s first (regular season) NHL goal. Kadri and Matt Calvert both scored twice for Colorado.
This is a game to quickly forget.
The Golden Knights next take on the Ducks on Sunday night. They’ll need more from both the offense and defense if they wish to turn the page on this ugly performance.