The Vegas Golden Knights lost their second straight game to the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday by a final score of 4-3. That came despite a late push in the third period as the Golden Knights scored two goals in the final six minutes to pull within one goal.
All of Vegas’ scoring came courtesy of rookie defenseman Dylan Coghlan, who not only scored his first NHL goal but his first NHL hat trick. It’s the first hat trick by a defenseman in Golden Knights history.
Minnesota, meanwhile, saw two goals from Joel Eriksson Ek.
The Golden Knights started the game in bad fashion after a Shea Theodore turnover in his own end led to a goal by Eriksson Ek just 19 seconds into the game.
However, 83 seconds later, Coghlan scored his first NHL goal to make it a 1-1 game:
It's not the clapper from the point, but the Glass screen gives the young defenseman his first goal with the big club.— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) March 11, 2021
Assist to Roy.#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/sPARwjpI0o
While he didn’t earn a point on the play, that screen by Cody Glass certainly helped.
Brayden McNabb announced his return to the lineup a few minutes later with a hit on Kyle Rau. McNabb had three hits, a rebound attempt and blocked a shot in 17:18 in his first game since Jan. 26.
While McNabb coming back is good news for the blue line, the way the top pairing of Theodore and Alec Martinez is playing is not. Especially with Alex Pietrangelo out for the “foreseeable future.” The duo had a 26.61 percent expected goal share in 12:30 of 5-on-5 play together in this game.
A scoreless second period featured multiple chances on both ends. However, the game remained relatively low event for the first 40 minutes, as Minnesota outshot Vegas in the first two periods 17-15.
The Golden Knights got their first power play in the middle frame but had zero shots on goal and just one attempt in those two minutes. The Golden Knights got another power-play opportunity in the third period, getting two shots but not scoring on that one either.
The third period started with three goals from the Wild. Kirill Kaprizov, the leader in points among NHL rookies, scored a power-play goal at 1:18 of the third. The Minnesota Wild came into this game with a historically-bad power play.
The Golden Knights’ penalty kill gave up 0.93 expected goals against and four high-danger chances in 2:25 in this game. Not stellar numbers.
Eriksson Ek scored his second goal at 5:54 of the third period, and Carson Soucy scored his first goal of the season at 7:41.
Marc-Andre Fleury was pulled shortly after the Soucy goal in favor of Logan Thompson, up from the Henderson Silver Knights and making his NHL debut. Thompson made two saves in 8:15 before being pulled for the extra attacker.
Fleury made 25 saves on 29 shots in 48:21, facing 2.96 expected goals against. He made seven saves on nine high-danger shots against.
Fleury wasn’t the problem, but pulling him seemed to help. The Golden Knights saw Coghlan pot his second goal on an odd-man rush with Martinez:
Stephenson, Martinez, Coghlan. First two goals in the NHL for 52. Great to see.#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/s6g3Eb2qKe— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) March 11, 2021
Coghlan scored his third from the blue line:
I've got nothing. Under 2 to go. They've got a chance. pic.twitter.com/xpRVjlgzrE— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) March 11, 2021
But that would be all she wrote in terms of offense for the Knights in this game.
At 5-on-5 in this game the Golden Knights had just 19 shots. They generated 1.19 expected goals for to 2.13 against. At all strengths, Vegas generated 27 shots including just four high-danger chances. They finished with 1.76 expected goals for to 3.31 against.
Only one line — Reilly Smith, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault — finished with an expected goal share above 50 percent (54.86).
The Golden Knights’ struggles against the Wild continued in this game. Against the other playoff teams in the West so far this season, the Golden Knights are now 4-4-1. They have to play better against other top teams.
Vegas next plays one of those other teams as they’ll face the St. Louis Blues on Friday at 5 p.m. P.T.