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Golden Knights drop second half of back-to-back in 3-2 shootout loss to Ducks

The Golden Knights outshot the Ducks 51-27.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Anaheim Ducks Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights (24-12-2) lost back-to-back road games for the first time this season when they suffered a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks (10-22-4) Wednesday night at Honda Center. It was the team’s first shootout loss of the year.

Vegas finished the night with 51 shots but was unable to overcome the play of Ducks netminder John Gibson, who made a season-high 49 saves.

Vegas trailed 2-0 early, resulting in the first goalie change of the season. The Golden Knights responded, scoring less than a minute later, and then evened things up in the second period. However, Gibson shut things down the rest of the way.

It was a wild opening frame that was far from Vegas’ best, but the Golden Knights managed to escape trailing 2-1.

Adin Hill got pulled after giving up two soft goals on just five shots. Both came off the stick of Adam Henrique and were full-line goals by Anaheim’s top trio.

At 1-0, the Golden Knights had a lengthy 5-on-3 power play but were unable to generate anything dangerous. Gibson had time to slide across and stop Vegas’ one-timers, and Vegas’ puck movement was too slow to open up any seams.

Henrique made it 2-0 nearly three minutes after the second penalty expired.

In relief, Logan Thompson quickly had to make two strong saves on Trevor Zegras, but just 49 seconds after Henrique scored from downtown, Mark Stone scored shorthanded on a beautiful forehand-backhand on the breakaway.

Stone’s 16th of the year was the Golden Knights’ league-leading seventh shorthanded tally of the season.

Vegas was more effective after the goalie change and ultimately outshot the Ducks 17-7 in the frame.

Bruce Cassidy shuffled the lines in the second period (and throughout the third), promoting Pavel Dorofeyev to the top line to skate with Stone and Chandler Stephenson. Dorofeyev had a glorious chance, but Gibson came up with a huge stop to rob him of his first NHL goal.

However, the Golden Knights evened things up later in the frame when Ben Hutton netted his first of the season. Hutton was in the lineup in place of Alec Martinez, who was injured blocking a shot against Los Angeles.

Hutton cut to the middle of the ice and drove hard to the net through a crowd of Ducks skaters. His initial backhand was turned away by Gibson, but he followed the rebound, threw the puck towards the net and got a little help from an Anaheim skate in the crease. The puck found its way to the back of the net to make it a 2-2 game at 13:32 of the second.

It was Hutton’s first goal since March 10, 2021.

Michael Amadio recorded the primary assist on the play, extending his point streak to five games. Phil Kessel was credited with the secondary helper.

The third period was more evenly matched, with Anaheim getting the only two power plays of the frame. But neither team was able to score the go-ahead goal, setting up Vegas’ ninth overtime of the season.

Hutton had a great chance in overtime but missed the net wide; as the Ducks carried the puck down the ice, Stone tripped Zegras, setting up the Ducks’ fifth power play of the night with 1:47 to go in extra time.

Alex Pietrangelo came up with a big block to clear the zone, and Brayden McNabb had a sliding poke check to kill off more time. Thompson made a key stop with a few seconds remaining, helping the Golden Knights reach the shootout.

But the Ducks scored on each of their shootout attempts, with Zegras and Troy Terry beating Thompson. Gibson stopped Stone’s five-hole bid, and Reilly Smith missed the net high in a must-score situation, giving the Ducks the extra point and the 3-2 win.

In the end, the Golden Knights outshot the Ducks 51-27 but failed to capitalize on countless opportunities.

While Gibson played very well, Vegas went 0-for-5 on the power play after scoring 14 goals in the first 13 games of the month.

However, the Golden Knights were a threat on the penalty kill all night, generating three high-danger chances while giving up just one in regulation. The penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5.

Hutton stepped up in his first game back in the lineup since Dec. 21. He came into the game with one assist and 13 shots in nine games but managed a goal and a career-high seven shots in Anaheim. He and Smith tied for the team lead in shots.

Pietrangelo played a game-high 34:16 one night after playing a game-high 27:36.

Despite playing last night in Los Angeles, Thompson was solid in relief; he finished the night with 22 saves but went 0-for-2 in the shootout.

The Golden Knights finished the back-to-back road set with an 0-1-1 record, coming away with just one of a possible four points. Vegas is now 14-3-2 on the road.

The Golden Knights will wrap up 2022 with a home matchup against the Nashville Predators on Saturday afternoon.