Golden Knights take step back, fall 4-1 to Coyotes for fourth loss in five games

Vegas never led after giving up a goal just 1:59 into the first period.

The Vegas Golden Knights came up empty in a 4-1 road loss to the Arizona Coyotes Sunday night at Mullett Arena.

One night after a convincing 6-2 win against Washington, the Golden Knights fell back into some of the same patterns that recently led to the team’s first three-game losing streak of the season.

The Golden Knights were forced to chase the game after giving up a goal less than two minutes into the contest, didn’t defend well, didn’t capitalize on chances and scored just one goal against a team giving up an average of 3.63 per game.

The Coyotes were looking to bounce back from two straight shutout losses; Arizona put an end to that scoreless streak early and never looked back. For the fourth time in five games, Vegas never led.

Dylan Guenther opened the scoring just 1:59 into the opening period after being left all alone in the slot and one-timing a shot past Logan Thompson, who had yet to reset after showing some indecision behind the net.

The second period had a remarkably similar start, as the Coyotes lit the lamp less than two minutes in once again. This time, it took just 1:39 for Clayton Keller to curl into the slot and beat Thompson, who was screened on the play.

The second period was Vegas’ best of the night. The Golden Knights clogged the neutral zone, recorded 16 shots and forced the Coyotes into taking multiple penalties, one of which resulted in Vegas’ lone goal of the night.

The power-play tally made it a 2-1 game at 9:03 of the middle frame. Jonathan Marchessault kept the play alive along the boards before sending the puck across the zone to Phil Kessel, who fired it at the net. Kessel’s shot deflected off the stick of Coyotes defenseman Troy Stecher, who was tied up with William Karlsson in front.

Despite moving the puck well, Vegas was unable to capitalize on its other power-play opportunities and finished 1-for-4 on the night. The Coyotes had a few prime scoring chances of their own while shorthanded, but Thompson came up with some key saves to keep it a one-goal game after 40 minutes.

One night after scoring a goal in the first four minutes of each period (2:17, 2:15, 3:59), the Golden Knights came close to allowing Arizona to accomplish the same feat. The Coyotes nearly scored 30 seconds into the third, but Thompson made a big save and got some help from the post on another Arizona chance.

Though Vegas survived the first few minutes, the Coyotes still managed to score the next goal.

Once again, the Golden Knights left someone all alone in the slot and paid the price for it. Keller scored his second of the game to restore Arizona’s two-goal lead at 8:50 of the third.

Bruce Cassidy pulled the goalie with more than five minutes remaining in the game, but Keller scored on the empty net to complete the hat trick and seal the win for Arizona.

It was a major step back for the Golden Knights, who looked to be turning things around after a confident performance against the Capitals. But inconsistent defensive play cost them, as all three of the Coyotes’ 5-on-5 goals were the result of poor coverage in the slot.

The Coyotes were desperate for their first regulation win in 2023, but this was a winnable game for the Golden Knights. It was a favorable matchup on the road, where Vegas had thrived all year (15-3-2), and the Golden Knights needed to come away with two points. Aside from a strong effort in the second period, Vegas wasn’t nearly good enough.

The Golden Knights did control play with a 60.64 percent Corsi share, 63.04 percent scoring chance share and 61.86 percent high-danger Corsi share, but only one team took advantage of its chances.

The loss means Seattle now has two games in hand over Vegas and trails by just one point in the Pacific Division standings.

The Golden Knights are back in action Tuesday against the Devils before a back-to-back against the New York clubs later in the week.