It was a difficult night for Vegas from start to finish.
A dominant opening frame for the Capitals set the tone early, and Vegas was never able to fully recover.
Evgeny Kuznetsov got the Caps on the board less than a minute into the game when he scored on a breakaway.
Five minutes later, Washington took a 2-0 lead when Tom Wilson beat Marc-Andre Fleury cleanly as he capitalized on a Jonathan Marchessault turnover.
Not entirely sure what Marchessault was trying here. pic.twitter.com/ab97Sl9tqA— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) November 10, 2019
The Knights were completely outplayed in the first period, but thanks to Max Pacioretty, Vegas trailed by just one through 20 minutes, which was somewhat miraculous.
Big goal by Patches to get Vegas within a goal. pic.twitter.com/jomDL9Uctb— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) November 10, 2019
Washington regained the two-goal lead when Jonas Siegenthaler netted the first goal of his NHL career late in the middle frame.
But Vegas responded with a power-play marker from Reilly Smith, who blasted a scorcher top-shelf to cut the deficit once again.
The Knights, down 3-2, started the third period on the power play, as they had in the second, but were unable to knot things up.
One thing the Knights had going for them throughout the game was an aggressive and effective penalty kill, which kept Washington at bay on numerous occasions.
That is, until Nicklas Backstrom gave the Capitals a commanding 4-2 lead with a power-play goal 11:30 into the third period.
The penalty kill was not to blame on this one, however, as it was a rare example of a Fleury blunder.
Though the Knights’ aggressive kill left plenty of room for Backstrom, who is rarely a threat for one of Washington’s trademark one-timers, Fleury should have had this one.
Fleury didn’t have his best night, giving up four goals on 33 shots for an .879 save percentage, but he did make a number of his typical jaw-dropping saves to keep Vegas in the game. He was especially sharp during a 5-on-3 opportunity for Washington in the third period. However, Backstrom’s trickling tally is definitely one he’d like to have back.
Backstrom later recorded an empty-net goal to officially put this one out of reach, giving the Capitals a 5-2 win for their sixth straight victory.
All in all, it was not a strong effort for the Knights, who continue to struggle with consistency this season.
Though Vegas did improve after the first period, the Capitals remained a step ahead all night.
Discipline was a major issue yet again, as the Knights were shorthanded six times. Vegas has taken 13 penalties in the last two games.
That’s not a recipe for success, especially considering how unnecessary some of the infractions were in tonight’s tilt.
The Capitals have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL so far this season, and they have a roster filled with elite talent. Nothing should be taken away from that.
However, it’s clear the Knights are frustrated, and they should be.
Vegas has now lost five out of its last seven games and has gone 1-1-1 so far on this road trip. The Knights are 9-6-3 on the year.
That’s simply not good enough, especially considering the level of talent up and down this lineup.
Tonight was never going to be easy, even if the Knights were at their best. That being said, a game against a top competitor is a great way to measure where the Knights stand, and tonight’s display was not promising.
In no way does that spell doom and gloom for Vegas.
But what is concerning is the fact that the inconsistent effort is becoming a recurring pattern, and that’s something the Knights have to get to the bottom of sooner rather than later.
Fortunately for Vegas, the Knights will have a chance to turn the page quickly as they’re set to take on the Red Wings tomorrow in Detroit.
The Red Wings are coming off a surprise upset win against the Bruins, so while this is a favorable matchup on paper, the Knights need to actually show up and put forth a complete 60-minute effort to get back on track. Vegas is fully capable of beating any team in the NHL, but execution will be key.