With only one point needed to clinch their second playoff berth in as many years of existence, Vegas hosted Minnesota in a...ahem... Wild matchup at T-Mobile Arena Friday night.
The bad news is the Knights lost once again to the Wild, who seem to have their number. The good news, though, is that the Golden Knights earned their spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, thanks to a Colorado Avalanche shootout win over the Arizona Coyotes.
Minnesota started off the first period hot with a goal from Greg Pateryn at 2:12, his first of the season. It was not a goal Malcolm Subban will be too happy about. The Wild continued to control the period, and it wasn’t long before Eric Staal doubled the Minnesota lead on the power play.
Vegas looked to rally in the second period, but another penalty led to another man-advantage opportunity for Minnesota, which they ended up converting on — again. The Wild’s second power-play goal came from deadline acquisition Kevin Fiala at 11:22 of the period. Zucker would get his second assist on the tally, along with Staal getting his second point.
At the end of the period, the Golden Knights finally got on the board thanks to a goal from Paul Stastny off a juicy rebound.
By the start of the third frame, Vegas officially clinched a spot in the playoffs. The score of the Colorado-Arizona game appeared on the jumbotron in T-Mobile Arena, and everyone in attendance went nuts. The Golden Knights would use this as an opportunity to seize control of the game and get right back into it.
Vegas continued to battle with the desperate Minnesota team. At 8:52 in the final period, Stastny score another goal to bring Vegas within one. This wound up being his first multi-goal game as a Golden Knight, so that’s pretty neat!
The Knights rallied late, but Wild goaltender Devyn Dubnyk stood on his head to preserve the win for the Wild, who needed the two points to stay in the playoff race. Dubnyk made 33 saves for the win, while Subban finished the game with 29. The best series of saves came right at the end of the period, with Dubnyk stretching out to prevent Stastny from completing the hat-trick and game-tying goal to preserve the win.
While it’s disappointing to not complete the comeback, Vegas still clinches a spot in the playoffs, and can use that as motivation to finish the rest of the regular season on a high note. However, this is still not an ideal situation to be in at the end of the season. While other teams in the Pacific have been struggling of late, such as Calgary and San Jose, the last thing the Golden Knights want to do is enter the playoffs in a slump.
The next game for the Golden Knights will be at the Shark Tank against rival San Jose on Saturday, which is shaping up to be Vegas’ first-round opponent in a couple weeks. This will be a great test to see how Vegas can handle the Sharks in their own building, as they will need to do so come playoff time against an equally struggling club.