After a redemptive win over the Chicago Blackhawks, the Vegas Golden Knights lost for the second time in three games, falling 4-2 to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night at the Enterprise Center in St. Louis.
The Golden Knights had a great start to the game, with a dominant effort in the first period leading to a 2-1 lead at the end of the first twenty minutes, although St. Louis scored first. Max Pacioretty almost immediately answered that goal with one of his own and then William Carrier made a nifty play at net front before the initial frame had ended.
Pacioretty’s goal was one of persistence, as Pacioretty’s initial shot from near the faceoff dot bounced off of Jordan Binnington and Pacioretty was able to collect his own rebound and put it in.
Pacioretty gets to the puck before Binnington can on the rebound and successfully tucks it between the St. Louis goaltender’s legs.
Carrier’s goal was set up by a shot from Nate Schmidt before some crafty handiwork of his own.
Forehand/backhand and in for Carrier, who did what net-front presences are supposed to do and, like Pacioretty, collected a rebound opportunity.
The Golden Knights’ first 20 minutes were dominant, as Vegas took a 17-10 lead in Corsi, 11-7 lead in shots, and 5-0 lead in high-danger chances at even strength and added to that total on the power play (although the Golden Knights were unable to convert).
But an incredibly rough second period saw the Golden Knights allow three unanswered goals, as the Blues took a 16-6 lead in shots and 8-1 lead in high-danger opportunities in the middle frame. Although the Golden Knights regained form in the third period, it went scoreless, as the game ended 4-2.
The Golden Knights played a good 40 minutes around that awful middle 20, and there were multiple players who could be described as “good” for Vegas in this game.
But the Golden Knights gave up too many high-danger chances at even strength (nine) and Marc-Andre Fleury was less spectacular than he was against the Blackhawks, making 25 saves on 29 shots for a .862 save percentage. Binnington on the other side made 27 saves on 29 shots for a .931 save percentage, and difference between those two was a major difference.
It’s not like the Golden Knights didn’t get their opportunities, either. They took shots from the areas they’re supposed to take shots from, got multiple breakaways, and players like Alex Tuch and Schmidt did solid work in trying to get more goals for Vegas (Tuch had four shots and .25 individual expected goals and Schmidt had two high-danger chances), but Binnington was just up to the task time and time again.
Vegas allowed two points to Oskar Sundqvist, who last season put up three goals versus Vegas in three games. He seems to have found some sort of kryptonite on the Golden Knights. MacKenzie MacEachern, a member of the Chicago Wolves in their first year of association with Vegas, also scored the Blues’ first goal. Jaden Schwartz and Robert Thomas scored St. Louis’s other two goals.
The Golden Knights will play their second game in the back-to-back on Friday against the Dallas Stars.