Sabres 4, Golden Knights 2: Vegas drops fourth straight

Time to break out the smelling salts.

The Vegas Golden Knights were defeated by the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 on Tuesday night, marking their fourth loss in a row.

Unlike the previous three losses, Vegas did not go down 3-0. They were outshot 13-4 in the first period, but it was a scoreless contest after 20 minutes.

Momentum for the Knights wouldn’t come until the second period, when they were the ones who held the significant lead in shots (12-5). One of those shots even resulted in a goal, courtesy of Tomas Nosek. It wasn’t the most graceful play, but it helped the Knights draw first blood and take a 1-0 lead for the first time in 2020.

The Sabres had answers, though. They squeaked a goal past Marc-Andre Fleury during a power play with under 15 minutes left in the second, and they repeated the feat with under a minute to go, once again converting on the power play. The second period ended in favor of the Sabres, 2-1.

The momentum may have tapered off slightly, but the Golden Knights found it again in the third period, if only for a moment. Reilly Smith evened things up just 1:43 into the frame with his 19th goal of the season.

Once again, however, the Sabres had an answer.

Jack Eichel gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead just over six minutes later. Eichel completed a give-and-go with Sam Reinhart that originated in the Knights’ zone, and it was former Knights defenseman Colin Miller that got the play started.

Curtis Lazar later sealed the 4-2 win for Buffalo with an empty-net goal with under 30 seconds left in the game.

The Knights were more competitive tonight than they have been in recent losses, and it was clear that Jonathan Marchessault, who missed the previous five games, brought a spark to the team. The Knights went 2-3-0 without Marchessault, and they arguably took one step closer to getting back in the win column with Marchessault back in the lineup.

They didn’t win, but the Knights were within one goal until the final minute of regulation, which is, at the very least, an improvement.

Fleury’s numbers were stark once again, as he finished the game with an .880 save percentage after stopping 22 of 25 shots. Vegas’ goaltending and defense have struggled mightily in 2020; in fact, the Knights have given up 24 goals in their last six games. A third of those have come on the man advantage, and Vegas struggled on the penalty kill once again tonight, going 2-for-3 on the night.

Things were looking up for Vegas a few games ago, but the Knights could find themselves out of a playoff position by the end of tonight. That’s not a doomsday statement since the standings couldn’t be tighter, but it could be a concern if Vegas is unable to turn things around on this road trip.

Vegas has three more games before the break, starting with Ottawa on Thursday. To say that that’s a must-win game is an understatement.