The Vegas Golden Knights and Minnesota Wild played each other for the third time in seven days tonight, but this time the game took place in St. Paul. The Golden Knights were unfortunately without their captain, Mark Stone, as well as their highest-paid defenseman, Alex Pietrangelo, and it showed in their 2-0 loss.
Marc-Andre Fleury surrendered just one goal on 21 shots, but the Knights were held off the scoresheet for just the second time this season, thus ending the team’s six-game winning streak.
Vegas got out to a sloppy start, but the Knights generated some chances against 24-year-old Kaapo Kahkonen, who they saw for the first time this season. They were not able to beat the outstanding young goaltender, however; he finished the game with 26 saves.
Around seven minutes into the game, Vegas headed to the power play after the Wild were called for a bench minor for too many men on the ice. However, Vegas’ struggles on the power play continued, and the Knights did not record a shot while on the man advantage.
The Golden Knights were struggling to control the puck, and after a costly turnover by Keegen Kolesar, the Wild broke the scoreless tie with a goal from Kevin Fiala around eleven minutes in.
Kolesar turns it over trying to find Pacioretty, and Fiala finishes it off. Sloppy start for the Golden Knights. pic.twitter.com/BtcqGZdtUw— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) March 9, 2021
With around three minutes left in the period, there was a scary moment for Zach Whitecloud, who fell backwards and hit his head on the ice. He went straight to the locker room, but fortunately he returned midway through the second period.
The Golden Knights started the second on another power play and were able to get the power play set up in the offensive zone. They generated a couple of really good chances but could not capitalize.
Vegas continued to push and got rewarded with yet another power play after Ryan Suter tripped Cody Glass around six minutes in. Unfortunately, the best chance of the power play was a shorthanded chance for Zach Parise. A few moments later, Glass was whistled for hooking Parise. The Golden Knights were able to kill the penalty with ease, as the Wild’s league-worst power play did not even threaten a shot.
Joel Eriksson Ek had a heck of an opportunity with a few minutes to go in the period, but Shea Theodore inadvertently blocked the near goal with his skate. The period finished with both teams pushing, but neither was able to beat the excellent goaltenders.
The third period started and the Golden Knights started hot, but their momentum was killed after Jonathan Marchessault was sent to the box, though the Knights once again killed off the penalty. Vegas finished the game 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill.
Minnesota was able to control play throughout the third, but Fleury was stellar and kept the Knights in the game until the very end.
Fleury made a scrambling save a few minutes before going to the bench for the extra attacker, but the Knights were not able to put one past Kahkonen.
The Wild were awarded an automatic goal after an ugly slash from Marchessault prevented Minnesota from scoring on the empty net, which iced the game. Jonas Brodin was credited with the goal.
The Knights’ struggles in Minnesota continued, but Fleury was excellent and kept the game close throughout. He had to be at his best in a game in which the Knights were turning over the puck constantly, including on the game-winning goal from Fiala.
The Wild had lost three out of their last four and were determined to get back in the win column, especially after going 0-1-1 in the two games in Vegas last week.
The Knights currently remain in first place in the division at 16-5-1 but failed to gain ground in the standings. However, St. Louis could match Vegas’ 33 points with a win tonight against the Sharks. In that case, Vegas would still have the top spot, though.
The Knights and Wild play again on Wednesday. It is unclear at this point if Stone or Pietrangelo will be available for that game, as both are still being evaluated, according to Pete DeBoer.