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Despite Being Depleted, VGK Find 1 Point
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For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Wednesday, January 12, 2022


The Vegas Golden Knights had a phenomenal inaugural season, followed by 3 seasons of moderate success, making the conference finals 3 of their first 4 years. But we all know what the ultimate success is in the NHL and only one team can achieve it.

It has been an incredible 4 seasons for them and their fans, but one thing has been on everyone’s mind since October 2021: the depleted lineup.

Injuries have plagued this team from top to bottom, with multiple players on injured reserve and a never-ending parade to either the injury list or the COVID protocol list. Granted, some players are headed in the right direction. Jack Eichel skated with the team for the first time on Tuesday morning and Alec Martinez skated 2 days ago, but now finds himself on the COVID list just as he was preparing to rejoin the team.

Luckily, the Knights have been able to keep their heads above water with the “next-man-up” strategy, but that can’t last forever, especially when playing a team as talented as last night’s opponent, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The VGK mounted yet another 3r- period comeback when they hit the ice for the final 20 minutes trailing by a score of 3-1. But when it was all said and done, that fell short with the 4-3 Toronto win in a shootout.

Robin Lehner played well in the past when Vegas forwards and defensemen were struggling earlier in the season. But last night, he faced only 15 shots and allowed 3 goals for a save percentage of .800. He did stop the only 2 shots in the 3rd period and the 1 shot in overtime to raise his save percentage, all the way up to a miserable .833. You’re not going to beat elite teams like the Leafs with a save percentage less than .900.

The overall team effort by the VGK last night was good. They held Toronto to just 17 shots for the entire 60 minutes. Toronto has the 9th most goals scored in the NHL with 116. Vegas has scored 138 goals. Washington and Tampa Bay lead the league with 142.

Goals by William Karlsson early in the 3rd period and Alex Pietrangelo on a power play with 8:12 left overcame their 2-goal deficit, enough to get to overtime and raise the hopes of not only the VGK, but the 17,911 at T-Mobile. For those who follow hockey other than the VGK, Toronto had just blown a 2-goal 3rd period lead on Saturday night to the Colorado Avalanche and wound up losing in overtime 5-4. The VGK knew this, and their hopes must have been high that they could do the same. But the 5-minute, period which many including myself thought would be entertaining, up-and-down back-and-forth pond hockey proved to be a disappointment. Vegas got only 2 shots on Jack Campbell and Toronto had just 1 shot on Lehner.

So off to the shootout we went. At this point, Vegas was the underdog. Robin Lehner has had less than stellar results in shootouts, while Campbell has been sensational all season, with a record of 18-5, entering last night’s game with a 1.99 GAA. Robin Lehner was 15-10 with a 2.91 GAA.

Vegas missed on all 3 of their attempts in the shootouts by Dadonov, Stephenson, and Marchessault. Vegas chose to go first in the shootout Toronto and got stoned by Lehner on their first 2 attempts; now, they could win the game when they sent William Nylander in on Lehner as their 3rd shooter. Nylander had a highlight-reel goal on Lehner in the first period and beat Lehner for the 4-3 victory for Toronto.

Vegas has gone 2-2-2 on this homestand for just 6 points out of a possible 12. These disappointing results leave the VGK clinging to a 3-point lead over the Anaheim Ducks for the Pacific Division lead. The only reason that the VGK still leads the division is that Anaheim has lost 5 of their last 7 games.

Other Game Notes and Quotes.

The Maple Leafs are now 23-8-3 and extended their point streak to six games (5-0-1). It was Jack Campbell’s 18th win this season, an NHL career high. He went 17-3-2 for Toronto in 2020-21.

“I just try to see what the goalie is doing,” Nylander said on his shootout winner. “You have a couple of moves in the back of your hand and try to stick to one, depending on what the goalie is doing. I just tried to see what he gave me and kind of got it up there on the glove side.”

This was the first shootout win of the season for Toronto.

Chandler Stephenson had an assist to set an NHL career high for himself with 36 points (10 goals, 26 assists); he scored 35 in 51 games last season.

Alex Pietrangelo was forced to play 5 seconds shy of 33 minutes in the game.

“I knew I was going to play a lot with some people out,” Pietrangelo said. “I thought, collectively as a group, we did a really good job shutting them down. I know they scored three, but we did a pretty good job as a whole.”

Pietrangelo added that he actually felt fine after the game, but admitted that tomorrow when he goes to pick up his children, that might be a whole different story.

My 3 Stars Of The Game: William Nylander (1G and the winning goal in the shootout), Alex Pietrangelo (1G, a PPG, saving a point for the VGK), William Karlsson (1G and set up in front of Campbell providing a screen on the Pietrangelo’s PPG)

Next game is 6 days away; the 2 road games that were scheduled in Canada have been postponed. The VGK return to T-Mobile on Monday Jan 17 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins at 7 p.m.

Your comments and opinions are welcome here at Las Vegas Advisor or you may contact me directly at [email protected] or on my Facebook page or the Facebook page of Vegas Hockey Guy or on Twitter @TheRealJoePane

For more VGK content, check out the Hockey Knights in Vegas Podcast that can be found at this link or on my Facebook page.

One other note: If you’re reading this blog from Facebook or Twitter and would like to access it earlier in the morning before I share it on social media, it’s usually published by 8 a.m. the morning after a game on LasVegasAdvisor.com. What better way is there to enjoy your morning coffee than reading my take on last night’s VGK game.

Nylander goal with a sweet move around Lehner
Pietrangelo PPG that ties the game up 3-3
Nylander’s shootout goal

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