Vegas failed to deliver a complete 60-minute effort and fell victim to Colorado’s top-ranked power play, which went 2-for-2 on the night.
Some line shuffling in the third period sparked an exciting late push by the Golden Knights, but Vegas’ rally effort ran out of time.
The Golden Knights were on their heels early, and Shea Theodore took a tripping penalty just under five minutes into the game.
Nathan MacKinnon made Vegas pay, opening the scoring with a power-play dart at 5:38 of the first.
Colorado was in complete control throughout the opening frame, holding the Golden Knights without a shot for 16 minutes. Though many of Colorado’s chances came from the perimeter, the ice was dramatically tilted in the road team’s favor.
But a late power play gave Vegas an opening, and the Golden Knights took full advantage.
Mark Stone caught the puck in the slot and then made a nifty behind-the-back feed to the wide-open Jonathan Marchessault, who buried it with just 44 seconds remaining in the period.
Jonathan Marchessault with the PPG to tied it up 1-1 in the 1st period! pic.twitter.com/o2reWXeVcs— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) October 23, 2022
It was Stone’s 300th career assist and Marchessault’s fifth goal of the year.
Vegas was incredibly fortunate to come out of the first period tied at 1-1 after Colorado held a hefty 31-11 lead in shot attempts.
The Golden Knights responded with a much better effort in the second, outshooting Colorado 16-11 with a 68.06 percent expected goal share at 5-on-5.
However, the Avalanche came away with the only tally.
It was another power-play laser, this time coming off the stick of Evan Rodrigues at 6:20 to give the Avalanche their second lead of the game.
Logan Thompson made several fantastic reactionary saves in the second, though Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram had the save of the frame when his skate robbed Stone in front of a wide-open cage on a Vegas power play.
But it was Valeri Nichushkin who had the play of the game with his third-period coast-to-coast goal, a fantastic individual effort that saw him tear through multiple Vegas skaters and roof one over Thompson’s shoulder to give Colorado a two-goal lead.
The goal, which proved to be the game-winner, came just over eight minutes into the third after Vegas failed to convert on two early power plays.
But it took the Golden Knights just 2:22 to pull back within one.
A new-look line of Chandler Stephenson, Jack Eichel and Stone led to Stephenson’s second of the year, making it a 3-2 game with 9:28 to go.
Bruce Cassidy’s line adjustments had immediate results and led to a thrilling third-period push, as the Stone line as well as the newly-reunited Misfits Line were stellar.
Following Nichushkin’s goal, the Golden Knights recorded 10 shots and hit the post. The Golden Knights outshot the Avalanche 14-4 in the third and recorded four shots in the final minute of regulation.
Despite holding all the momentum, Vegas ran out of time.
Thompson finished the game with 22 saves on 25 shots, though a lack of discipline and a critical defensive breakdown put him in a difficult spot.
In the end, the Golden Knights outshot Colorado 35-25. Vegas got better and better as the game wore on, but a slow start and a rough night on special teams proved costly. Vegas went 0-for-2 on the penalty kill and 1-for-4 on the power play.
Cassidy’s mid-game line adjustments were effective when Vegas found itself trailing by two and could help the Golden Knights address their consistency issues.
Cassidy also made notable changes to the power play ahead of the game.
Stone was shifted to the bumper position, and the results were promising. He made the play on Marchessault’s first-period goal, and he had several prime chances in the second period, including a one-timer off a behind-the-net feed from Stephenson as well as his glorious chance thwarted by the skate of Byram.
Though the Golden Knights went 0-for-3 on the power play in the second and third periods, the man-advantage generated 10 shot attempts on those opportunities. The more dynamic power play should be beneficial for the Golden Knights moving forward, especially since it will put the puck on Stone’s stick more often.
Next up for Vegas is a home matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday as the Golden Knights wrap up this three-game homestand.
Phil Kessel is set to tie Keith Yandle’s record for most consecutive games played in NHL history when he takes the ice for the 989th straight time.