Year 2, Game 9: Golden Knights lose to Canucks in shootout, suffer 3-2 loss

The loss snaps the Golden Knights’ three-game winning streak, leaving Vegas with a 4-4-1 record.

Well, the winning streak is over. Actually, two of them are.

Vegas’ 3-2 shootout loss to Vancouver not only snaps the Golden Knights’ three-game winning streak this season but also ends its four-game winning streak and undefeated record against the Canucks.

The Golden Knights still walk away from tonight’s loss with a point, but Vegas missed an opportunity to defeat a Pacific Division opponent without three of its best players (Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson were scratched, while Alex Edler played just over three minutes before leaving the game with a lower-body injury; plus, Sven Baertschi also left the game early with an injury).

But that didn’t stop Bo Horvat and Jacob Markstrom from leaving T-Mobile Arena with two points.

Though this one required 65 minutes of hockey and a shootout, most of the damage was done in a four-goal middle frame that saw multiple lead changes.

First, Vegas jumped out to an early lead thanks to excellent forechecking by Erik Haula.

Haula stripped the puck from Canucks defenseman Derrick Pouliot behind the net and sent a crisp centering feed to Max Pacioretty, who slammed it into the net for his second goal as a Golden Knight and his 450th career point.

Vegas would hold that lead, its only lead of the game, for just 3:04 before Horvat tied the game on this deflection, notably assisted by former Golden Knights forward Brendan Leipsic.

Horvat wasn’t finished, though. Just 64 seconds after that, he gave the Canucks their first lead of the game on this shot, which beat Marc-Andre Fleury clean.

Then, as is so often the case, a brilliant save at one end of the ice led to a goal at the other end. In this case, Fleury robbed Leipsic before Ryan Reaves, Vegas’ resident sniper, beat Markstrom to knot things up at 2-2.

But that was the last time Markstrom would be fooled.

In fact, the Swedish netminder made 33 saves on the night and stopped all four of Vegas’ shootout attempts to lead his team to victory.

It was Vegas’ second shootout of the season, but Haula, Pacioretty, Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson were unable to beat Markstrom, paving the way for Markus Granlund to step in and score the lone goal of the four-round shootout to clinch the win for the Canucks.

Vegas outshot Vancouver 35-26 and had plenty of glorious scoring chances, but the Knights’ timing seemed to be slightly off all night in what could be classified as a sloppy effort.

As the heat map for tonight’s game shows, both teams had plenty of high-danger scoring chances, though Vegas had the edge in high-danger corsi (11-8).

As such, both goalies were forced to make great saves all night. Aside from the critical stop on Leipsic prior to Reaves’ goal, Fleury made another memorable save on Brandon Sutter, whose toe-drag left him alone in front of the net.

Fleury finished the game with 24 saves and a .923 save percentage, but it wasn’t enough for the win.

Tonight’s game marks the first time this season that the Knights lost despite being perfect on the penalty kill in a game in which Vegas’ opponent had at least two power plays. The penalty kill wasn’t exactly perfect, though; in fact, Fleury had to bail out his teammates when Loui Eriksson somehow got behind Vegas’ defensemen and had a breakaway during one of Vancouver’s two power plays.

But the Knights also failed to take advantage of their own power plays, going 0-for-4 on the night. That brings Vegas’ 31st-ranked power play to a 7.1 percent conversion rate.

One player who was unable to help the man advantage was Alex Tuch, who played 17:39 in his season debut, recording five shots and one hit and getting three-plus minutes of ice time on the power play. However, his presence did seem to spark the second line, which had multiple chances throughout the contest and scored the opening goal of the game.

It was Vegas’ fourth line, though, that stood out once again. Not only did Reaves score for the second straight game, but all three forwards contributed to the play; in fact, William Carrier’s assist on the tally was his first point of the season.

Vegas, now 4-4-1, will have to clean things up significantly ahead of Friday’s tilt against Tampa Bay.