For the third game, the Vegas Golden Knights got off to a slow start in the first that resulted in them chasing the game. Saturday’s game saw Vegas take a point in their shootout loss in Colorado against the Avalanche. And while they scored first and beat the Avalanche on Monday in Vegas, they were outshot in that first period 13-6, with their goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury keeping them in that opening twenty. As things got underway Wednesday night between the Golden Knights and the Arizona Coyotes, Vegas spent the entire game playing from behind and was once again outshot in the opening period, this time to the tune of 15-5.
“It’s bothering me a lot. We had a great first game of the road trip in San Jose. We had an unbelievable first period,” head coach Gerard Gallant shared after the loss. “The last three since that we’ve been chasing the game every game. That’s three in a row and you’ve got to be better and you’ve got to be more prepared for those starts. We’ve got to get our game ready.”
While they are certainly not the first team to have such struggles, the timing of this potential trend is concerning, especially since they just clinched a playoff berth with their win on Monday. Chasing a game is generally not a recipe for success, and with the playoffs around the corner, the team definitely wants to derail this tendency. They would do well to find a way to come out hard and fast on Friday since they will be playing host to the St. Louis Blues who are coming in riding a six-game winning streak.
“Just better starts. When the opposing team scores first, it’s kind of a domino. Can’t really control the play and your emotions go sometimes,” Alex Tuch said. “Team scores in the first period and then you’re chasing. Then we’re chasing the puck. Then chasing the game. Chasing the score. We can’t do that. We have to come out hard and that’s what we did in the first half of the season. That’s why we’re so good at home.”
In addition to playing from behind, the Golden Knights had their fair share of difficulties with the puck in general. A few posts and some misconnects on passes coupled with some shots off the mark just exacerbated their situation as the game progressed.
“I had a lot of missed shots too. I had a couple. I mean, we’ve got to bury our opportunities. They got some lucky bounces honestly. Goalie [Antti Raanta] might be thanking the posts, kissing them a little bit,” Tuch elaborated. “I thought we had a good third period, a lot more desperate. That’s what I said before, we’ve got to play desperate hockey and match the desperation. I mean, they’re not in the playoffs so they’re looking to improve their personal outlook on the season honestly. So, they’re going to be coming out hard and playing well. We weren’t able to match it early on and it was too little, too late.”
If the Golden Knights play from behind on Friday, the St. Louis Blues will make them pay. They are a stingy team. Vegas would do well to come out hard and desperate from the first puck drop.