The Vegas Golden Knights‘ season is still alive, but only just.
Vegas fell short once again, losing 3-2 in a shootout to the Dallas Stars Tuesday night at American Airlines Center.
The Golden Knights did not trail in this game but were unable to win it in regulation or even extra time, ultimately falling in a shootout for the second game in a row.
Miro Heiskanen scored the game-winning goal in the seventh round of a shootout in which Vegas skaters went 0-for-7.
The Golden Knights have not been eliminated from playoff contention, but their playoff hopes are hanging by a thread.
A relatively conservative opening frame concluded with a late goal by William Carrier, who scored for the second game in a row after returning from missing nearly a month of action.
Chandler Stephenson drove to the net, but Carrier’s centering feed went off the stick of Stars forward Luke Glendening and through the pads of Stars netminder Jake Oettinger with just 49 seconds remaining in the first period.
keep calm— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) April 27, 2022
Carrier on pic.twitter.com/dXIxy04T7T
The pace picked up a bit in the second, but it took more than 13 minutes for the puck to find the back of the net.
This time, however, it was the Stars who lit the lamp.
Forward Jason Robertson scored his team-leading 39th goal of the year after deking around Brayden McNabb and then firing a shot far-side past Logan Thompson to make it 1-1 at 13:31.
But once again, the Golden Knights got a late goal to take a one-goal lead into intermission.
Glendening took an offensive-zone penalty to set up a late power play for Vegas. For the third game in a row, Stephenson converted on the man-advantage, lifting a rebound over Oettinger to give Vegas a 2-1 lead with just four seconds remaining in the frame.
The hard-fought shift by the Golden Knights led to Stephenson’s 21st goal of the season, giving him goals in four straight contests for the first time in his career.
Mark Stone tallied the primary assist on the goal for his first point in eight games since returning to the Vegas lineup. Jack Eichel also was credited with an assist after going four games without a point.
It would prove to be the last Vegas goal of the game, however.
Robertson struck again early in the third period, evening things up at 2-2 just 3:13 into the final frame.
Robertson’s 40th of the season came just after a strong save by Thompson, but Thompson didn’t have much of a chance on the deflection of John Klingberg’s shot from the point.
The Golden Knights recorded the final seven shots in the third period but were unable to get one past Oettinger, including on a glorious 2-on-1 opportunity for William Karlsson.
Both teams were particularly sloppy in overtime, making careless mistakes, turning the puck over and failing to generate much offensively. Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault had a 2-on-1 but didn’t manage to get a shot off.
Roope Hintz did have a breakaway opportunity after Karlsson blew a tire, but Thompson shut him down with a monster glove save to keep Vegas in the game.
The Golden Knights headed to a shootout for the second game in a row.
Thompson was stellar, going 6-for-6 before Miro Heiskanen bested him in round seven.
The Golden Knights failed to score a single goal in the shootout, going a combined 0-for-10 over the last two games to put their season on the brink.
The 3-2 shootout loss wasn’t enough to knock Vegas out of playoff contention, but the Golden Knights need to win out against Chicago and St. Louis and need the Stars to lose in regulation to both Arizona and Anaheim.
In other words, Vegas is one Dallas point away from failing to reach the postseason for the first time in franchise history.
Both Los Angeles and Nashville clinched playoff berths on Tuesday, leaving one wildcard slot left for the taking. But all the Stars need to secure that slot is to reach extra time against one of two non-playoff teams.
The Golden Knights have had more than enough chances to control their own destiny; Tuesday’s game was just another in a long line of missed opportunities.
Despite the fact that Dallas is a one-line team, Vegas was unable to shut down the trio of Robertson, Hintz and Joe Pavelski.
The line held a 20-8 edge in Corsi for a 71.43 percent Corsi share in 11:57 of ice time, and they accounted for both of Dallas’ shots in overtime; one was the Hintz breakaway, the other involved Pavelski getting in behind the Vegas defense.
Many of Vegas’ top players were shaky, including Stone, who was noticeably hesitant throughout, throwing the puck away on multiple occasions. Eichel was far from a difference-maker, and he failed to score in the shootout in back-to-back games. He led all forwards in ice time (24:14); the only Vegas players who played more were Alex Pietrangelo (26:04) and Shea Theodore (25:52).
Max Pacioretty missed some shifts in the third period after taking a hip check from Michael Raffl, though he didn’t leave the game.
In general, there was an overall lack of urgency for much of the contest.
That wasn’t the case for Thompson, however.
Thompson finished the game with 28 saves on 30 shots and was fantastic. He was slow to get up after Vladislav Namestnikov crashed the net in overtime, but he was able to finish the game; he did everything he could to help Vegas win this one, including putting together a gutsy performance in the shootout.
In addition to Thompson, Stephenson and Theodore were Vegas’ best players.
The Golden Knights have a quick turnaround with a game tomorrow night in Chicago, and the Stars are set to take on the Coyotes as well. A Vegas loss or a Dallas win (or overtime/shootout loss) will put an end to Vegas’ playoff hopes once and for all.