The Vegas Golden Knights suffered a humbling defeat at the hands of the Calgary Flames, falling 7-2 to the division rival Thursday night in Las Vegas.
It was the first regulation win for Calgary at T-Mobile Arena, and it came at a crucial point in Calgary’s season. The Flames, in desperate need of points to preserve their playoff chances, outplayed Vegas for most of the contest.
The Golden Knights fought back from a two-goal deficit and evened things up late in the second period, but the Flames went on to score five unanswered goals.
Vegas’ lackluster power play was a key factor behind the lopsided loss.
Jonathan Quick surrendered six goals on 29 shots for a .793 save percentage in his first loss with the Golden Knights (4-0-1).
MacKenzie Weegar opened the scoring for the Flames at 15:05 of the first period, as a point shot off the faceoff found the back of the net.
Immaculate vibes. pic.twitter.com/MyFOiDYfLv— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 17, 2023
Calgary took a 2-0 lead less than four minutes into the middle frame when Tyler Toffoli made a power move to the net and outwaited Quick, who went for the poke check, leaving the far side of the net wide open.
Toff was not going to be stopped. pic.twitter.com/eDo94wiieg— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 17, 2023
A spirited fight between Paul Cotter and Troy Stecher gave Vegas some life.
Things are heating up in Vegas. pic.twitter.com/UhDQFZ2RXV— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 17, 2023
The Golden Knights drew a power play less than two minutes later, although it was Calgary that had the two dangerous scoring opportunities, one of which required Quick to make an extraordinary save to rob Dillon Dube’s backdoor bid.
Ultimately, the Golden Knights went on to reset the game at 2-2 with two goals in the span of 3:21.
First, Zach Whitecloud ripped a top-shelf laser past Jacob Markstrom to make it 2-1 at the 12:33 mark. Whitecloud was the beneficiary of an outstanding shift by William Karlsson, who was the best player on the ice for Vegas all night.
Zach Whitecloud cutting the lead in half!! pic.twitter.com/LM6PcC1Bzk— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) March 17, 2023
Reilly Smith was credited with the primary assist on the play, extending his point streak to seven games.
Smith went on to score a goal of his own on another great play by Karlsson, who sent a perfect cross-ice feed to Smith for the one-timer.
And just like that.... pic.twitter.com/itXQrs2xFC— AT&T SportsNet™ | RM West (@ATTSportsNetRMW) March 17, 2023
However, the Flames were back on top less than two minutes later when Blake Coleman got in behind the defense and tipped Elias Lindholm’s centering feed on the doorstep to make it 3-2.
Blake Goalman pic.twitter.com/2l9INQapn3— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 17, 2023
Calgary went on to score four more goals in the third period.
The first took a crazy bounce as Mikael Backlund’s pass attempt from behind the net hit Alex Pietrangelo’s stick and then Quick’s mask before finding its way into the net. The power-play goal made it 4-2 at 8:40 of the third.
Thanks for the helping hand, Alex. pic.twitter.com/VCrbI1Rw6F— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 17, 2023
The Flames extended that lead to three after Shea Theodore fell down in the neutral zone, leading to a breakaway for Andrew Mangiapane. Though Quick made the initial stop, Toffoli was there to cash in on the rebound.
He's on fire pic.twitter.com/X7KOX2tIHI— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) March 17, 2023
The Golden Knights got a power play shortly thereafter and pulled Quick to set up a 6-on-4 opportunity, but Vegas failed to convert for the fourth time in the game. Right after the penalty expired, Coleman caught up to a deep clear after exiting the sin bin and scored his second of the game into the empty net to put the game fully out of reach.
Dube added one more for good measure, catching Quick out of position for the touchdown.
Dillon Dube takes advantage of Quick's poor positioning for Calgary's 7th tally of the evening!#Flames pic.twitter.com/SPK4tmfG6L— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) March 17, 2023
The Golden Knights were coming off four straight wins and a successful 4-1-0 road trip but fell flat in their first game back on home ice.
Vegas recorded a season-low 19 shots on goal and went 0-for-4 on the power play, wasting timely opportunities and, in some cases, giving Calgary momentum by getting outworked on the man-advantage.
In nine games this month, the Golden Knights are 7-0-0 when scoring the first goal; Vegas is now 0-2-0 when falling behind 1-0.
After a great showing on the road trip, Vegas’ top line had a particularly rough performance. Ivan Barbashev, Jack Eichel and Jonathan Marchessault were outshot 7-2, gave up five scoring chances while generating just one and managed a team-low 14.42 percent expected goal share in 10:07.
But while players like Karlsson and Smith were excellent, this was a loss the Golden Knights suffered as a team.
“We got in our way in a lot of different ways,” Bruce Cassidy said after the game.
Cassidy cited losing the net-front battles, having a poor shot mentality and the ineffective power play as reasons for the loss.
“Our power play was ... fill in the blank ... I’ll settle for awful,” he said. “It had a chance to be a difference-maker tonight. ... If you get outworked on the power play, it’s going to be tough.”
Smith echoed those sentiments.
“We kept on getting power-play chances and we weren’t making anything with them,” he said. “Just too many squandered opportunities where we could have given ourselves better footing in the game. And then obviously they score that power-play goal themselves, and I think that’s a big change in the outlook of the game.”
The Golden Knights now hold just a one-point lead over Los Angeles in the Pacific Division race; both teams have 13 games remaining.
Vegas will take on the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday before heading out on a three-game road trip in Western Canada.