After playing one of their best games of the season against the St. Louis Blues earlier this week, the Vegas Golden Knights traveled to Denver to take on the second-place Colorado Avalanche. This time, however, the Golden Knights had arguably their worst game of the season in a 5-1 loss.
Vegas surrendered five unanswered goals, four of which came in the second period alone.
This was the Knights’ first regulation loss after scoring first this season.
The Golden Knights got off to a very quick start, as the first line struck yet again. Max Pacioretty, who was a game-time decision, scored only 40 seconds into the game.
He was assisted by Mark Stone and Alec Martinez on his team-leading 17th goal of the season.
The game was off to a roaring pace, with both teams ringing the iron in the first five minutes. Marc-Andre Fleury had to make some great saves and stood tall as he has all season.
The Golden Knights were sent to their first power play of the game after Nazem Kadri caught Pacioretty with a high stick, but Vegas was not able to capitalize on the opportunity.
After a beautiful chance on a two-on-one for Pacioretty and Chandler Stephenson that went just wide, a frustrated Pacioretty was whistled for boarding. Though the buzzing Colorado power play was killed off by Vegas, it gave Colorado all the momentum, and they never looked back.
Fleury kept the Knights in the game by stopping all nine shots he faced in the first, but both goalies stood tall and sent the teams to the locker room with Vegas having a 1-0 lead.
The second period started, and the Avalanche went right back to the power play. Tomas Nosek was called for tripping; this time, the Avalanche cashed in.
The power play was coming to a close, but after an unfortunate bounce off of a blocked pass, Joonas Donskoi floated one past Fleury that tied the game at 1-1.
Minutes later, the Avalanche got their third power play of the game after Vegas took a bench minor for too many men. The Golden Knights were able to kill the penalty this time, however, but it was all Colorado in the second.
Just over nine minutes into the frame, the Avs scored their second of the game as J.T. Compher beat Fleury on a weak shot that Fleury would have liked back. The shot came from a tight angle, and Fleury did not get all of it.
Seconds after the goal, the Golden Knights yet again went to the penalty kill. Jonathan Marchessault was whistled for holding, but the Golden Knights killed it off.
The Avs had three power plays in the middle frame, but the entire second period felt like a Colorado power play.
Then the Avalanche truly opened the flood gates.
Cale Makar got a step on Nick Holden, protected the puck on a beautiful move and walked in on Fleury, beating him with a perfectly placed shot that went five-hole.
This gave the Avs a 3-1 lead, but they continued to steamroll the Knights. Gabriel Landeskog cleaned up a rebound off of a deflected Makar shot to further extend the lead. This was the fourth goal of the period for Colorado.
One of the worst periods of the season for Vegas mercifully came to an end, sending the Knights to the locker room with a massive hill to climb.
The Golden Knights got off to a good start in the early stages of the third period, but the Avalanche continued to pile on. Former Golden Knights forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare scored Colorado’s fifth unanswered goal just under four minutes into the frame.
The Golden Knights battled all period long to get one back, and it appeared as though they did with around five minutes left. However, Nicolas Roy’s apparent goal following a mad scramble was overturned after Colorado challenged the play for offside.
Instead, the Knights failed to score a goal in the final 59 minutes and 20 seconds of the game in a lopsided defeat.
It was arguably the worst game for the Knights this season.
Vegas could not gain any momentum throughout the game; the Knights were hampered by penalties and by getting flat-out outplayed by the Avalanche.
Remarkably, Nathan MacKinnon did not record a single point in the game. Vegas was wildly outshot (32-19) and had just 10 shots through the first two periods (five in each).
It was the first time Fleury gave up five goals in a game this season; he finished the night with 27 saves on 32 shots for an .844 save percentage.
With the win, the Avalanche are now tied with the Golden Knights in first place in the West Division, although the Golden Knights have a game in hand.
The Knights are now 2-3-0 in the season series.
Vegas has a chance at redemption with a matinee rematch on Saturday.