How to bounce back after a bad loss

The hockey world had a good laugh at the Vegas Golden Knights's expense yesterday. What can the Golden Knights learn from their demoralizing 7-4 loss?
2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four
2023 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

The Vegas Golden Knights are sitting pretty against the lowly Arizona Coyotes. Up 4-1 with 12 minutes left, they were in complete control. Then, Arizona scores.

*"Baby, I'm Howlin' For You" plays*

Okay, no big deal. The Golden Knights are doubling up Arizona now. Josh Doan has had a hot start. Less than a minute later...

*"Baby, I'm Howlin' For You" plays*

The Arizona Coyotes are down by a goal thanks to Nick Bjugstad, his 22nd. Now the momentum's shifting to Arizona's side. Ten seconds later...

*"Baby, I'm Howlin' For You" plays*

Tie game. The Coyotes faithful is all-in, with their young squad having all the momentum. The Vegas Golden Knights briefly take the lead on an Alec Martinez goal, only to have it waved off on an offsides call. Then...

*"Baby, I'm Howlin' For You" plays*

The Coyotes take the 5-4 lead, thanks to Michael Carcone's 21st. The Golden Knights are in disbelief. How did this collapse happen? Now, Arizona's on their way to a colossal upset.

*"Baby, I'm Howlin' For You" plays two more times*

The disastrous third period for the Vegas Golden Knights

The Arizona Coyotes won the game, 7-4, behind six third-period goals. In the span of 9:06, too. It was also the most goals allowed by the Vegas Golden Knights in a singular period.

While the Golden Knights did have a 4-1 lead in that game, that lead disguised their shortcomings. A lack of offensive pressure in the first period (three shots in the first period) followed by mental mistakes did them in. Add in Logan Thompson having an off-night and this collapse was inevitable.

That's what happens when a team only plays 20 minutes of quality hockey in a game. Playoff teams don't let lower squads get the best of them in a singular period. That means not committing turnovers, making the saves needed to win, and not letting your opponents skate past you. The Vegas Golden Knights did all that, resulting in an all-time collapse for a single game.

Bruce Cassidy's comments

Head coach Bruce Cassidy addressed the collapse, talking about the game's takeaways.

There's no time to learn valuable lessons in April. This is playoff time, where playoff teams take care of business. There's no excuse for the Vegas Golden Knights to not play down to their competition.

The Vegas Golden Knights haven't clinched anything, nor do they know who their opponent is. They've also been in situations like this before. Last year, they had a 7-4 (ironic, eh?) loss to the Edmonton Oilers on March 28, 2023. The Oilers had three power-play goals that game, leaving the Golden Knights looking for answers. What did they do? Make adjustments and play with more urgency. Everyone knows what happened after.

Now, this isn't the end of the world by any stretch. After all, the Golden Knights are still third in the Pacific. However, they missed a golden opportunity to keep pace (and distance) in the Western Conference playoff race. Now, the Golden Knights have a gauntlet, facing off against the West's top contenders.

In 2018-19, the Golden Knights lost Game 7 of the first round to the San Jose Sharks. In that game, the Golden Knights blew a 3-0 lead in four minutes. They lost that game, 5-4, in overtime. Vegas doesn't want deja vu to strike in the playoffs. That means heeding Bruce Cassidy's words and playing with urgency. Otherwise, there will be hell to pay.