Aside from the final three minutes of the third period, it was one of the Golden Knights’ flattest performances in quite some time.
Filip Forsberg scored twice for the Predators, who held a 3-0 lead until William Karlsson broke through with 7:59 remaining in regulation. The Knights pulled within one in the final two minutes of the third and kept play in the Predators’ end until the final buzzer, but Nashville held on for the win, snapping Vegas’ point streak at three games.
Logan Thompson earned his first career start in place of the injured Laurent Brossoit, and he was Vegas’ best player all night. He was particularly effective in the first period, stopping 10 of 10 shots to keep the game scoreless despite the lopsided play in Nashville’s favor.
But he was unable to do so in the second.
Forsberg skated into the slot and fired an absolute laser that beat Thompson far-side just 2:41 into the frame.
Yakov Trenin doubled the Predators’ lead less than five minutes later. Thompson had no chance on the goal, scored on a deflection off a point shot.
Alex Pietrangelo and Ben Hutton were stuck on the ice on an extended shift, leaving Trenin unchecked at the side of the net.
Philippe Myers — one of the players involved in the three-way deal involving Nashville and Vegas that brought Nolan Patrick to Sin City in the offseason — recorded the primary assist on the play.
Thompson made a particularly clutch save — the best of his career, in fact — at the tail end of the second period, using his skate blade to rob Forsberg and keep Vegas in the game.
But the Swedish winger made up for it in the third.
Forsberg fooled Pietrangelo, made a filthy deke in front of the net and beat Thompson on the backhand for his second of the game.
Filip Forsberg's second of the night is a beauty. pic.twitter.com/2ah5epUOBD— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 5, 2022
The goal came shortly after Pietrangelo failed to capitalize on a prime chance from the slot, arguably Vegas’ best scoring opportunity since a 2-on-0 early in the first period.
Nashville proceeded to take several minor penalties, one of which was a blown call, but the Knights’ power play went 0-for-3 on the night. Pete DeBoer pulled Thompson to give the Knights an abbreviated 5-on-3, but Pietrangelo missed the net twice in the must-score situation.
However, Vegas made things interesting with a greasy goal 12:01 into the third.
The puck hit Karlsson in front and bounced off Nashville netminder Juuse Saros en route to the back of the net, making it a 3-1 game and ending Saros’ shutout bid.
It was a milestone goal for Karlsson, who now has 100 goals as a member of the Knights.
Shea Theodore brought Vegas within one with 1:46 left in the third period, taking advantage of a Mattias Janmark screen in front with his seventh of the year.
SHEA THEODORE brings the VGK within 1!!!!! pic.twitter.com/Qy8KeWWyNH— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) January 5, 2022
It was the fifth time Vegas has scored with the goalie pulled this season.
But despite a late flurry of chances, the Knights were unable to beat Saros and force overtime.
Vegas failed to capitalize on prime scoring opportunities and looked uncharacteristically hesitant all night, especially on several odd-man rushes. Vegas may have recorded 43 shots (topping 40 for the third game in a row), but the majority of them came from the perimeter, making it an easy night for Saros.
It was a particularly rough night, on the other hand, for Pietrangelo, who got burned on two of the Predators’ three goals, failed to hit the net on a critical 5-on-3 in the third period and seemed out of sorts all night.
Once again, the Knights gave up an early goal in the first three minutes of a period. Vegas also failed to record three goals, which has been a key to success all year.
At the end of the day, the Predators were the better team for most of the game.
Vegas has a chance to regroup ahead of Thursday’s tilt against the New York Rangers, as Gerard Gallant makes his long-awaited return to Vegas.