The Vegas Golden Knights blew another opportunity to pickup two points on Monday, and fell to the New Jersey Devils by a score of 3-2. Vegas pressed late, and scored a goal at 18:46 of the third to make it a one-goal game, but it ultimately was a case of too little too late. The loss to the Devils. one of the worst teams in the league, is one that doesn’t make a ton of sense, and will likely serve as a point of reflection as the team looks to rebound for the final stretch of games on the schedule.
From a stats perspective, Vegas out shot New Jersey 44 to 28, and from an expected goals perspective held a 4.31 to 2.79 edge in all situations according to MoneyPuck.com. If you look at only 5v5 numbers, the Golden Knights still won out with a margin of 3.16 to 2.45, but all that matters is what was logged on the official game sheets. Despite finishing with a 73.7% rating on the “Deserve to Win O’Meter”, the Golden Knights still lost, and failed to capture two important points.
This game didn’t have as much special teams battles as we’ve seen in recent Golden Knights games, as both sides went 0 for 1 on the power play, and conversely 1 for 1 on the penalty kill. Failure to execute on the power play is something that could cost Vegas a playoff spot, and it’s mind boggling that a team with a lot more skill than the Devils was unable to play a game which would lead to more power play chances.
In terms of individual statistics, Keegan Kolesar picked up his 7th goal of the season late in the second period to tie things up at 1-1. That tie was short lived as the Devils scored 3:14 into the third, and then again almost five minutes later to make the game 3-1. The goal by Jesper Boqvist was a bit of a back-breaker, and appeared to catch Robin Lehner by surprise.
It is a shame because Lehner made some important saves on the evening, but unfortunately not as many as needed. And at this point of the year, the expectations are huge for someone like Lehner, which was pointed out by Pete DeBoer after the game.
Pete DeBoer going with Robin Lehner: “You’re looking for your guy to be better than the guy at the other end, and that wasn’t the case tonight.”— Danny Webster (@DannyWebster21) April 19, 2022
While this is an understandable comment to make after a loss, it’s an odd one to make considering Vegas’ offense couldn’t capitalize on the chances generated. Yes, you’d like Lehner to stop the third goal, but the margin for error shouldn’t be that small given the healthy talent currently in the lineup.
Chandler Stephenson’s goal off a scramble while Lehner was pulled gave fans some hope that the home team would tie things up, but that much-needed goal never came.
Andrew Hammond deserves a lot of credit for his performance tonight, as he made 42 saves for the Devils, including many late in the game as Vegas pressed to tie things up. He’s back in the NHL after quite a lengthy absence, prior to this year he last appeared in 2017-18, and tonight was just his 8th appearance of the season.
Hammond had a 5.95 goals against average and .822 save percentage in games played for the Devils heading into tonight’s game, but he looked like the vintage Hamburglar who made an impressive run with the Ottawa Senators back during the 2014-15 season. And with that said, yes it is common for goalies to have these random one-off performances, but at this time of year the team in front needs to get it done
The Golden Knights had their chances, even though there were large stretches in which team looked lifeless, but at the end of the day were unable to get the job done against a very beatable opponent.
Up next for the Golden Knights are the Washington Capitals, a team they know quite well, and that game will take place on Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena. After that game the Golden Knights are off until Sunday when they take on the San Jose Sharks.