The Vegas Golden Knights started off a five game road trip in South Florida with the Panthers coming away with a 2-1 victory. The second period goal by Aleksander Barkov allowed the Panthers to take a 2-0 lead and it turned out to be the eventual game winner. It was just the second loss by the Golden Knights in regulation since January 27 against the New York Rangers.
Adin Hill stopped 40 of 42 shots on the evening following his 47 save performance against the New Jersey Devils just days before. The loss to the Panthers keeps the Golden Knights tied with the Kings for the Pacific Division lead with a game in hand on the Kings. The season series would end up as a split against Florida as the home team taking both contests.
The Golden Knights inability to get the offense moving in the most critical points of the game has become a topic of conversation with head coach Bruce Cassidy, “You got to be ready with the puck drops,” stated Cassidy following the game. “They were. We weren’t.” That was the case with Golden Knights against the Panthers. For two periods, the Golden Knights looked great on the ice, it was just the first period that put the target on their backs early
Panthers take control early, grab 1-0 lead
Both teams took their turns maintaining possession early on and the first shot of the game came off an Anthony Duclair shot that Adin Hill was able to stop. A couple minutes later, the Panthers got a takeaway and then off the stick of Ryan Lomberg, the Panthers got a solid goal to take the early 1-0 lead with 15:35 left. Less than two minutes after the goal, the Panthers got the first power play of the game off a Brett Howden tripping call against Anton Lundell, which the Golden Knights were able to kill off.
With 9:43 left, the Golden Knights would get their own power play opportunity as Mark Staal would be called for tripping against Paul Cotter. The Panthers were able to kill the Vegas power play and get contrl of the puck for an extended period of time. Matthew Tkachuk, Staal and Aleksander Barkov were all able to get off their shots, but Hill was there to stop all them. Sam Reinhart created a solid opportunity but was blocked by Alex Pietrangelo and Hill. Howden would finally give the Golden Knights some offense, but Sergei Bobrovsky was there to make the save and Rako Gudas seconds later countered with a shot that hit the post.
Panthers 1, Golden Knights 0 – 1st Intermission
The shots are 12-9 in favor of the Panthers but it does not feel like it, The Golden Knights spent a lot of time in the Florida offensive zone. The Panthers also have a 4-0 advantage in takeaways and have been more physical in the opening period with a 10-4 advantage. The Golden Knights are extremely lucky that they are only down one goal at the intermission.
Theodore cuts lead in half
The Panthers spent the early part of the second right where they left off in the first by controlling the puck. Off a Pietrangelo blocked shot, Barkov would score on a wrist shot to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead with 15:55 left. With 11:50 left, Nick Cousins was called for tripping on Barbashev giving the Golden Knights a second power play. Chandler Stephenson was able to get a shot off in the power play but the Panthers were able to kill off the penalty.
Duclair had a solid opportunity with 8:13 left in the 2nd but Hill was there to make the save. With 7:33 left, the Panthers were called for too many men on the ice. giving the Golden Knights a third power play in the game. In the power play, Shea Theodore would fire a one-timer rocket past Bobrovsky to put the Golden Knights to within one. The goal came with 8:37 left and it is Theodore’s eighth of the year and second in as many games.
With 2:23 left, Brett Howden and Rafael Gudas were sent to the box for two minutes with roughing. With 21 seconds left, Babrashev had a great opportunity to tie the game but Bobrovsky was there to save it.
Panthers 2, Golden Knights 1 – 2nd Intermission
The Shea Theodore goal cuts the Panthers lead in half but the Panthers for the most part still control the game and the puck possession. It took a bench penalty to give the Golden Knights an open window. A sign that the Panthers are controlling the puck is the blocked shots category with the Golden Knights up on that category by an astounding 22-9 ratio.
Panthers hold off Golden Knights to earn big win
Another takeaway by the Panthers led to another opportunity as Eric Staal got a shot off on Hill who was there to save it with 17:38 left. Two minutes later the Panthers turned one over with Pietrangelo getting a good opportunity. Brandon Montour was called for tripping Keegan Kolesar giving the Golden Knights their fourth power play of the game with 14:04 left to go. Outside of a Michael Amadio power play, the Golden Knights were unable to convert. Tkachuk and Aaron Ekblad countered shortly after with Hill there to make another pair of saves.
Martinez was called for hooking on Sam Bennett with 10:24 left giving the Panthers their second power play of the game. After several chances generated by the Panthers, the Golden Knights survived the penalty remaining down just one goal. The Golden Knights were generating chances down the stretch but the Panthers were there to hold off the attack. With two mutes left, the Golden Knights took Hill off the ice to get the extra attacker on the ice. The opportunities were there but the Golden Knights could not find a way to get the puck in net.
Panthers 2, Golden Knights 1 – Final
- The loss drops the Golden Knights record to 38-20-6 with 82 points, tied atop the Pacific Division with the Los Angeles Kings. The Golden Knights still have one game in hand on the Kings.
- Adin Hill stopped 40 of 42 shots on the evening.
- The Panthers had a sizable advantage on the Golden Knights in hits and shots on goal. On the flip side, there were 23 blocked shots generated by the Vegas defense.
- The next game for the Golden Knights is on Thursday evening against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena in Tampa at 7:00p ET/4:00p PT. The Lightning are coming off a 5-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers and have a 37-21-5 record. Good enough for third in the Atlantic Division
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