The Knights were coming off a win against San Jose and were hoping to win consecutive games for the first time since Feb. 8, but that was not in the cards.
The Knights were tempting fate and playing with fire throughout the game, and Boston made them pay time and time again.
Vegas also suffered another injury, as Brayden McNabb left the game in the second period with a possible hand injury; he did not return.
But tonight’s game did mark the return of a few familiar faces, including Tomas Nosek.
- Original Misfit— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 4, 2022
- Scored the first goal ever at T-Mobile Arena
- Four years of dedication to the Golden Knights and the Las Vegas community
WELCOME BACK TOMAS NOSEK!!!!! pic.twitter.com/j7w2qIS74p
Erik Haula recorded two assists against his former team as one of four Bruins with a multi-night effort.
Craig Smith recorded his third career hat trick, and David Pastrnak scored twice for Boston (Trent Frederic recorded three assists). Bruins netminder Jeremy Swayman made some big saves to keep the Knights off the board when they did manage to get some chances; he finished with 34 saves on 36 shots for his fifth straight win.
His best was on Reilly Smith on a Vegas power play in the second period.
Robin Lehner followed up that save with two huge stops of his own. He made several key saves throughout the game, but second-, third- and fourth-chance opportunities plagued the Knights in the end.
The opening goal is one Lehner should have had, though.
The Knights turned the puck over in the neutral zone, which set up a 3-on-2 for Boston; Craig Smith beat Lehner short-side to make it 1-0 just over 13 minutes into the game.
Craig Smith scores his first goal since Jan. 30.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 4, 2022
He desperately needed that one.
Craig Smith added his second of the game nearly a full period later, making it 2-0 at 11:18 of the middle frame.
Eichel cut the deficit to one with his second goal of the year and first on home ice. It came with under three minutes left in the second period. It appeared to be an absolute dandy, but he lost control of the puck before it slid past Swayman.
An ill-timed line change for the Bruins set up the play, and Eichel showed a burst of speed and skill he had yet to display. He continues to improve but is not yet the Jack Eichel of old.
Pastrnak scored a critical goal to make it 3-1 just over eight minutes into the third. He came streaking in and went five-hole; while Lehner stopped the initial shot, Pastrnak poked it through his pads to extend Boston’s lead to two. That proved to be the game-winning goal.
30 goals for David Pastrnak.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 4, 2022
Craig Smith completed the hat trick 6:25 later, making it 4-1 at 14:39 of the third.
Lehner collided with Zach Whitecloud in the crease, which prevented him from getting over in time after coming out to stop Brad Marchand’s initial shot.
It was that kind of night for Vegas.
Marchessault made it 4-2 with 3:22 remaining in the third period, but it was too little, too late for the Knights, who have now lost six of their last eight games.
Pastrnak officially put the game away at 18:20 of the third with an empty-net tally.
Vegas could have won this hockey game. The Knights trailed 2-1 after two and could have come out with a dominant effort in the third.
They did not.
In fact, Vegas had just six scoring chances in the final frame.
The Knights generated little to no offense for most of the game; the effort certainly did not reflect Vegas’ current situation in the standings.
The Knights are now tied with Edmonton for third place in the Pacific Division with 64 points in 55 games after Edmonton’s 4-3 overtime loss to Chicago. The Knights not only surrendered their minimal cushion but also failed to take advantage of another Los Angeles loss last night.
Vegas cannot continue on the current path if it hopes to make a push for the playoffs. The fact that the team may have a new injury doesn’t help matters, but there is enough talent on this roster to win some games.
The team effort was not there tonight; it could have been a blowout if not for some of Lehner’s saves. For much of a critical third period, the Knights played as though they were trying not to blow a one-goal lead even though they never led in this game.
They only took one penalty, which was a positive, but they failed to capitalize on either of their power plays (ironically taken by Haula and Nosek), one of which came early in the third period.
A goal at that point would have been a game-changer, but the Knights continue to struggle with the man-advantage, something Pete DeBoer addressed following the game.
DeBoer: There's no hiding from the fact that we got to get a power play goal. It feels like forever we haven't had one. pic.twitter.com/68tM765c87— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 4, 2022
The Knights cannot expect to win hockey games with performances like tonight’s, especially against better teams.
Vegas is slowly but surely running out of runway.
The Knights will look to turn things around with a quick turnaround tomorrow night in Anaheim; the Ducks are three points behind the Knights, who have a game in hand.
Whether or not McNabb will be available for that game remains to be seen. DeBoer did not have a clear update following the game, saying that McNabb is being evaluated and “getting pictures.”
But Marchessault’s message was clear in his postgame interview: injuries are not an excuse.
Eichel & Marchessault— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 4, 2022
Eichel: It's tough hockey this time of year. Everyone is trying to win every game, so we just need to dig deeper. pic.twitter.com/VrZCbosmTA
The Golden Knights have to be better.