Both Columbus and Vegas entered tonight’s contest with a winning streak on the line, but it was the Blue Jackets who walked away victorious, overcoming a one-goal deficit in the third period and taking this one by a final score of 4-3.
Cam Atkinson scored twice in the final 5:12 of the third period, netting the game-winner on the power play at 17:21.
The loss snaps Vegas’ two-game winning streak, and it’s the team’s third straight loss on home ice.
It was a fast-paced game from the start, with both sides trading chances early.
But it was Josh Anderson who got things going a little over four minutes into the opening frame, giving Columbus a 1-0 lead.
The lead would not last long, however, as the Knights tied things up just 32 seconds later when Nate Schmidt grabbed his fifth of the season. Jonathan Marchessault picked up his 100th career assist on the play, which beat Sergei Bobrovsky after bouncing off the skate of Columbus center Pierre-Luc DuBois.
Vegas jumped out to its first lead of the game late in the first when Jon Merrill scored a short-handed marker at 17:49.
Merrill, a noted sniper, has his second of the season. pic.twitter.com/NurtLmgyrJ— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 10, 2019
However, the Knights’ play deteriorated in the second period, and Columbus made the most of it. Artemi Panarin got a favorable bounce and erased Vegas’ one-goal lead during a period that saw the Knights go without a shot for more than 15 minutes.
Vegas came out with more energy in the third, and Cody Eakin scored the go-ahead goal a little over nine minutes into the period, blasting one past Bobrovsky on a great feed from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
But the Knights were unable to hold on.
Atkinson made both Brayden McNabb and Marc-Andre Fleury look somewhat foolish on his 30th of the season.
GOAL. Cam Atkinson ties it. pic.twitter.com/29cze4ZI6A— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) February 10, 2019
But he wasn’t finished.
With under three minutes left in the game, Atkinson converted on the man advantage, giving him two goals in the span of 2:24, thus sealing the victory for Columbus to complete the sweep of the season series.
The Knights were outplayed for most of the night and were outmatched in the Corsi battle, as the graph below demonstrates. In fact, Vegas finished the game with a Corsi For percentage of 39.76.
At the end of the day, it’s difficult to win hockey games when you’re not dictating pace, controlling the puck or generating chances; the Knights learned that the hard way tonight.
Also of note tonight was Gerard Gallant’s decision to shorten the bench in the third period, keeping Valentin Zykov and Tomas Nosek off the ice. That’s a strategy that has never been prevalent in Golden Knights hockey, for one of the Knights’ greatest strengths last year was its ability to run four lines regardless of the opponent or situation. It is definitely something to monitor moving forward, especially as the Trade Deadline approaches.
Vegas is next in action Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena as the Knights host the Coyotes.