However, the Knights have now lost two straight after suffering a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.
The Knights knew it would be a tough matchup with the Pacific Division-leading Oilers in town, especially since the Oilers’ star players came into the game first and second in NHL scoring.
That was made pretty clear early on.
As has been the case in previous matchups between these clubs, it was the Connor McDavid show for most of the game.
McDavid scored just 5:17 into the contest to give the Oilers an early lead. His speed and skill are undeniable, and they were on full display as he plucked the puck from the corner, out-skated multiple Knights skaters and got around Marc-Andre Fleury to tuck in his 17th goal of the season.
Later in the period it was time for the Oilers’ other superstar to showcase his abilities.
Leon Draisaitl won a puck battle against Mark Stone (easier said than done) behind the net, took advantage of a borderline pick play by McDavid and then sent a perfect backhand saucer pass to Ethan Bear, who beat Fleury on a seemingly innocent wrist shot.
It’s one Fleury would like to have back, but it’s tough to argue with the skill level of the Oilers’ top line, which combined for seven points on the night.
It seemed like the Oilers would carry the 2-0 lead into the locker room, but the ginger king Cody Eakin had something to say about that as he potted his third goal of the season with just under 20 seconds left in the period.
It was a fluky play as a deflected Nick Holden shot landed in front of Mike Smith, but Eakin was there to send it top-shelf to get the Knights on the board.
THE BOY WONDER COMES TO WISH YOU HELLO AND SCORE GOALS. pic.twitter.com/36GbApuyAf— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) November 24, 2019
Edmonton took a 3-1 lead on a goal by Markus Granlund at 12:04 of the second period. But that lead would hold for just two minutes and 15 seconds thanks to a gorgeous goal by Shea Theodore.
Theodore intercepted a pass at center ice, came into the zone and deked and dangled his way around Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom before beating Smith five-hole.
The goal, Theodore’s second of the season, snapped a 20-game goal drought and brought the Knights within one for the second time in the game.
But McDavid regained the Oilers’ two-goal lead 2:11 into the third period with a power-play strike, and Vegas was unable to recover, ultimately losing 4-2.
The loss follows a disappointing 2-1 overtime defeat against the Sharks and ends Vegas’ four-game homestand (2-1-1) on a very sour note.
Edmonton outshot Vegas 31-27 and wasn’t forced to take a penalty all night. Notably, the Knights committed 14 giveaways in a sloppy effort that saw the Oilers control play for long stretches.
As Gerard Gallant said after the game, the Knights didn’t play with any fire.
It also wasn’t a particularly strong night for Fleury, who gave up four goals and finished the game with a save percentage of .871. That being said, while he had to contend with some of the most skilled players in the world, Fleury did demonstrate some elite skill of his own with another highlight-reel save.
The Knights (11-10-4) are now 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and have gone 3-5-3 this month.
The Oilers (15-7-3) are one of the top teams in the conference with 33 points, so it’s not a surprise that tonight’s game was a tough test. However, the Knights’ performance does reintroduce some ambiguity regarding Vegas’ identity in Year 3.
The back-and-forth nature of Vegas’ results this season is concerning, and the schedule doesn’t get any more forgiving moving forward.
Though it’s still early, American Thanksgiving is often used as a benchmark for playoff potential. The Blues threw that out of the window last year, but the Knights don’t want to have to rely on such drastic and unrealistic measures, so something will need to change soon.
One thing is for sure: the Knights will need a much stronger effort when they take on the red-hot Dallas Stars Monday night before closing out the month with games against Nashville and Arizona.