Vegas had a chance to take sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division with a point. Despite two late goals, the Knights were unable to overcome a costly second period, as a series of penalties in the middle frame proved to be the turning point in the game.
The Knights were on the board first, though.
After a scoreless first, Jonathan Marchessault gave Vegas a 1-0 lead just under five minutes into the second period. Marchessault scored his 13th of the year on his 29th birthday, and it was a beauty.
But just over four minutes later, the Ducks responded with three goals in the span of 1:37. Two of those goals came on the power play, as discipline was a key issue for Vegas once again.
Nate Schmidt was called for tripping, and Tomas Nosek joined him in the box shortly thereafter on a double minor for high sticking.
Anaheim scored with one second left on the two-man advantage as Adam Henrique beat Malcolm Subban on a one-timer.
The Ducks added another power-play goal when a Cam Fowler shot took a strange bounce after hitting Deryk Engelland in front of the net.
Fortunately for Vegas, the Knights had killed off the first minor penalty, so Anaheim’s power play was over.
But that didn’t stop the Ducks, who capitalized yet again just 14 seconds later as Max Comtois redirected a point shot by defenseman Jacob Larsson.
Anaheim eventually added a fourth goal 9:46 into the third period, making it a 4-1 game.
However, the Knights made it exciting as Schmidt scored two goals in the final two minutes of the game. The second goal came with just under six seconds, though; at that point, it was too little, too late.
It was a disappointing result coming out of the holiday break, but that doesn’t mean the Knights played poorly.
In fact, they dominated possession at 5-on-5, winning the Corsi battle 47-25 and limiting Anaheim to just 18 shots on goal.
That being said, this game was not won or lost at 5-on-5, and the special teams battle wasn’t even close.
Vegas went 1-for-3 on the penalty kill and 0-for-2 on the power play, while Anaheim won this game with a quick-strike offensive burst in the second period.
At the end of the day, the Knights lost by one goal, but while they dominated at 5-on-5, this wasn’t really a close game.
It’s a huge missed opportunity for the Knights, who had Cody Glass back in the lineup.
Arizona now has two games in hand heading into tomorrow’s tilt, and this was a game the Knights easily could have walked away from with two points.
The Knights have a quick turnaround as they take on the Coyotes tomorrow night in Vegas in what is arguably the biggest game of the season.
Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start, and he’ll be eager to bounce back from his worst performance of the season. The Knights are in jeopardy of losing three straight, so the stakes are pretty high for tomorrow’s matchup. Hopefully the momentum from the late push in tonight’s game will carry over into tomorrow’s effort at home.