After a frustrating loss Thursday night in Buffalo, the Vegas Golden Knights looked to rebound against the Pittsburgh Penguins (35-15-9) Friday night at PPG Paints Arena.
They did not.
The Knights dropped their third straight game, losing 5-2 in the second half of the back-to-back. The Knights move to 32-24-4 on the season after another tough offensive showing.
Laurent Brossoit made his second start in as many nights and kept the Knights in the game early, as it was all Pittsburgh in the first. He held the Penguins off for nearly 19 minutes as Vegas managed just five shots and one high-danger chance in the opening frame.
Brossoit and the Vegas penalty kill had to come up big, as Vegas took several undisciplined penalties. One of those involved Max Pacioretty delivering a punch to the back of Kris Letang’s head after the two had been arguing.
It was a slow start for Vegas. Pittsburgh was the faster team, won puck battles and generated relentless pressure.
Eventually, the Penguins broke through.
Defenseman Mike Matheson got on the board with 1:06 left in the frame, beating Brossoit with a top-shelf wrist shot to the far side of the net.
Mike Matheson is back and he's making an impact pic.twitter.com/IzeHDXEmjZ— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 12, 2022
Pittsburgh ultimately outshot the Knights 16-5 but, thanks in large part to Brossoit, led by just one.
But less than three minutes into the second period, Pittsburgh doubled its lead with a goal from Jeff Carter.
Jeff Carter cleans up a rebound. That made it 2-0 @penguins. It's now 2-1 after a Jack Eichel goal here on @ATTSportsNetPIT. pic.twitter.com/9aVomS1n14— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) March 12, 2022
Pittsburgh capitalized on a Vegas turnover, and the Knights got caught in a bad change. Brossoit made the initial save on the ensuing breakaway, but he couldn’t find the puck before Carter scored on the rebound.
However, the second period was otherwise a much better frame for Vegas, as the Knights had the clear edge in shots (22-7) this time around.
Less than two minutes after the Carter goal, Jack Eichel cut the deficit to one with his fourth of the year.
Heeeeeere’s Jack! pic.twitter.com/lzIkUL5rjL— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 12, 2022
Pacioretty raced to a loose puck at the side of the net and threw it into the slot; it took a few bounces, including hitting the stick of goaltender Tristan Jarry, but Eichel put home the rebound in the slot to make it 2-1.
Exactly four minutes later, the Knights evened things up at 2-2.
The Knights looked much better during a stretch of 4-on-4 play, and Alex Pietrangelo capped it off with his eighth off the year off a pretty dish from Jonathan Marchessault, who collected his second primary assist of the night.
t— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 12, 2022
The goal snapped a 12-game goal drought for Pietrangelo.
The Knights finished the frame with eight high-danger chances (compared to just one in the first).
Pacioretty was not on the bench to start the third; he appeared to be playing through something in Buffalo as well, and he was unable to finish tonight’s contest.
Even so, the Knights were tied at 2-2 against a strong Pittsburgh club and had all the momentum after a strong middle frame.
But they did not score again; instead, the Penguins lit the lamp three more times.
Just under four minutes in, defenseman Mark Friedman scored the third goal of his career to regain the lead for the Penguins at 3-2.
What an absolute snipe from the far side!— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 12, 2022
Here’s a look at Friedman’s goal, which made it 3-2. pic.twitter.com/fcNIj9ekYQ
That proved to be the game-winner.
The Knights had multiple power-play opportunities in the third and could have tied the game; instead, they only recorded two shots, and the Penguins had a better chance and hit the post while shorthanded.
Eventually, the Knights took a penalty that helped the Penguins pot the insurance marker.
Bryan Rust scored on the power play to make it 4-2 at 14:49. Evan Rodrigues iced the game with an empty-net goal just under three minutes after that.
Brossoit recorded 29 saves on 33 shots for a -2.44 goals saved above expected, per Natural Stat Trick.
But it was the power play that let down the Knights.
Brossoit gave the Knights a chance to win this game, and Vegas played well enough to come away with at least one point. But Vegas was unable to capitalize at key moments, including on back-to-back power plays in the third.
The Knights are 0-3-0 to start their five-game road trip, which continues Sunday in Columbus and wraps up Tuesday in Winnipeg.