Golden Knights fall short in 3-1 loss to Bruins, lose another defenseman to injury
Zach Whitecloud was injured in the second period and did not return.
The Vegas Golden Knights (20-9-1) gave up three unanswered goals in a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins (22-4-1) Sunday night at T-Mobile Arena, finishing their three-game homestand with a 1-2-0 record.
Vegas battled hard but was unable to generate enough offense to compete with the best team in the NHL. The Golden Knights have now scored just seven goals in their last five home games and move to 8-7-0 on home ice this season.
The Golden Knights were without Jack Eichel as well as defensemen Shea Theodore and Alex Pietrangelo.
But things went from bad to worse on the injury front as Zach Whitecloud was injured early in the second period and did not return. Bruce Cassidy did not have an update on his status after the game.
The Golden Knights scored first for the fifth time in their last six games.
Mark Stone opened the scoring with a power-play strike just over four minutes into the game.
Ben Hutton, skating on the top unit, started the play at the top of the zone, feeding the puck to Chandler Stephenson along the wall. Stephenson found Stone at the side of the net, and the captain took care of the rest, deking around the crease and sliding the puck into the net for his 10th of the season.
our captain RULES 😤 pic.twitter.com/z2qE8fVJVE— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) December 12, 2022
But that’s all she wrote for Vegas’ offense.
Whitecloud was injured early in the second period. He had to be helped off the ice and went straight to the locker room, unable to put any weight on his right leg.
Zach Whitecloud looks to be hurt pretty badly after an awkward collision with Taylor Hall as Hall dove for a loose puck#VegasBorn pic.twitter.com/OaYuHtb7Nm— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) December 12, 2022
The Golden Knights were already missing their two best defensemen but were forced to play the rest of the game with just five. Those five — Brayden McNabb (21:19), Nicolas Hague (20:39), Alec Martinez (20:31), Hutton (20:12) and Daniil Miromanov (19:05) — saw comparable ice time, though Hutton and Miromanov were the only two to see time on the power play (3:43 and 3:04, respectively).
Boston didn’t make it easy for Vegas’ blue line. The Bruins came out flying in the second period and were pouring on the pressure. Though Logan Thompson had been stellar, it was only a matter of time before one got past him.
Just under four minutes in, Patrice Bergeron was left wide open in the slot and made no mistake, beating Thompson short-side to make it a 1-1 game.
Patrice Bergeron whips home Pastrnak's centering pass, tying it up at 1 with his 10th of the year!#NHLBruins pic.twitter.com/sPD69CacsZ— Hockey Daily 365 l NHL Highlights (@HockeyDaily365) December 12, 2022
But the beginning of the third period proved to be the difference in the contest, as Boston scored twice in the first 9:04 of the frame.
Pavel Zacha had plenty of time in the offensive zone and eventually sent a cross-ice saucer feed to Jake DeBrusk, whose one-timer beat the sliding Thompson just 2:10 into the third.
Jake DeBrusk gives Boston the lead.— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) December 12, 2022
Great set-up from Pavel Zacha. pic.twitter.com/d6u45STEe9
It’s unclear what Martinez was doing on the play, but he elected to go down early and slid along the ice, opening up the lane for Zacha’s pass.
The goal proved to be the game-winner for DeBrusk, a critic of Cassidy from his time in Boston.
Charlie Coyle scored his ninth of the year just under seven minutes later, firing a puck through heavy traffic and finding twine to give Boston a 3-1 lead.
Charlie Coyle finds the back of the net through traffic 🐻 pic.twitter.com/kPPRTNAnfa— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) December 12, 2022
That lead proved to be insurmountable for Vegas, though the Golden Knights battled until the end.
Vegas had plenty of chances throughout the contest, finishing the game with 11 high-danger chances at 5-on-5 (Boston had six). Five of those 11 came in the third period.
The Golden Knights had breakaways, hit the post and even had a puck trickle behind Bruins netminder Linus Ullmark but go wide.
But the puck would not go in, which has been a problem at home all season.
The Golden Knights finished 1-for-4 on the power play but generated 13 shot attempts and eight scoring chances with the extra man. The Vegas penalty kill went 2-for-2 against Boston’s second-ranked power play, holding the Bruins to just one shot attempt on each opportunity and allowing zero shots on goal.
Though Thompson gave up three goals on 27 shots, he made countless clutch stops to keep Vegas in the game. The Golden Knights just couldn’t get him any goal support at the other end.
Vegas will hit the road for two games — Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets and Thursday against the Chicago Blackhawks — before returning home for a four-game homestand. What the lineup, especially the back end, will look like remains to be seen.