Knights face Blachkawks, aim to get past ugly loss

Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights finish up their three-game road trip with the second half of a back-to-back on Tuesday night at Chicago.

The trip began with on a high note for the Golden Knights on Saturday. Marc-Andre Fleury registered his 57th career shutout while making 29 saves in a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, the team that drafted him first overall in 2003 and with whom he won three Stanley Cups.

However, after playing in the first nine games of the season (including eight starts), Fleury got Monday night off in a sloppy 6-2 loss at Philadelphia. Oscar Dansk finished with 31 saves in his first NHL game since Oct. 30, 2017, but the Golden Knights allowed a season-high goal total.

Four of those goals came in the second period, which ended with the Flyers leading 5-0.

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant called the effort the team’s worst in the defensive zone in two seasons.

“There were some good parts of the game,” Gallant said. “I really liked our second period, and we gave up four goals. That’s the funny part.”

So what went wrong?

“It was three or four or five guys who didn’t play really well tonight,” Gallant said. “I thought most of our guys played OK. We made some bad decisions in our D zone. It was the worst D zone we had this year. And last year.”

“There was no excuse for us,” Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault said. “We were not there for our goalie.”

Vegas right winger Reilly Smith, who scored his team-leading seventh goal, added, “You’ve got to play 60 minutes, and we didn’t tonight. It seemed like our awareness wasn’t there and we gave up easy goals. … We feel bad because we left Oscar out to dry tonight.”

Gallant said having such a quick turnaround might be a plus following Monday night’s clunker.

“I think it will be, for sure,” he said postgame. “We play again tomorrow night, so they’ll forget about it tonight on the plane, and they better be ready tomorrow.”

Marchessault said, “I think that’s the most positive (thing about) the situation is that we have another game tomorrow. We can forget about (this) one, and we will if we win that game tomorrow.”

Chicago comes in off a 5-3 home loss on Sunday to the Washington Capitals, a result that snapped the Blackhawks’ two-game winning streak. Tom Wilson scored the game-winner at the 11:47 mark of the third period, and Lars Eller added an empty-netter to seal the win for the Capitals.

The Blackhawks lost despite controlling play for most of the contest, as Washington goaltender Braden Holtby made 41 saves.

“Overall, it was probably our best game of the year so far and most complete game,” said Chicago left winger Alexander Nylander, who finished with two assists.

“Sometimes you don’t get rewarded in this game. That’s the cruel thing about hockey, but we have to stick with it. It’s a good foundation, and we can build off it. We have to make sure we ride this momentum into the next game. We’ve got to make sure that we keep this rolling.”

Vegas swept the three games with the Blackhawks last season, winning 8-3 and 4-3 in overtime in Chicago, and 4-3 in Las Vegas.

–Field Level Media

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