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Knights on Ice — VGK Start off Short-Handed and Become Even Shorter, Falling to L.A. 4-2
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Dateline: Las Vegas, NV
Thursday, April 1, 2021

 

The day started with the VGK having a completely healthy roster. Alex Pietrangelo returned to the team after missing the last 12 games due to an undisclosed injury that most believe was a hairline fracture after taking a slapshot to his upper body. But before Carnell “Golden Pipes” Johnson completed his usual inspiring rendition of the National Anthem, the VGK were short a forward in Ryan Reaves. Though Reaves warmed up for the game, Coach DeBoer revealed in his post-game conference that Reaves was scratched afterwards. My question is, if you know Reaves might not be able to go, why not dress Patrick Brown for the warmups? Because you can only play a player who has taken the warmups? When Reaves was a late scratch, the VGK had only 11 forwards, forcing them to have to double-shift players to complete the 4th line.

To add salt to the wound, Chandler Stephenson was assessed a 5-minute major and a game misconduct late in the 2nd period when he planted a high hard elbow to the head of Kings defenseman Tobias Bjornfot, who appeared to be leaking blood from his nose as he left for the locker room.

So now the VGK were down to 10 forwards and in the 3rd period they had 2 defensemen, Pietrangelo and Hague, in the penalty box. The VGK were successful in killing off the 5-on-3, but could never get any closer than 4-2 when Shea Theodore scored at 3:36 of the third period in an unsuccessful attempt for another dramatic VGK comeback.

If that wasn’t enough of bad news, Zach Whitecloud got tangled up behind the net occupied by Calvin Petersen. Whitecloud didn’t return to the VGK bench. Petersen stopped 39 of the 41 shots that he faced for the much-needed win by the Kings, who are fighting for the last playoff spot; they trail St. Louis by just 4 points and they have a game in hand. It’s not often that an opposing goaltender outplays Fleury, but last night that happened. Fleury made a number of grade A saves in the 3rd period, but also gave up 2 goals that he should have stopped for sure.

Injuries are never an excuse for losing and DeBoer made that clear last night in his post-game remarks. “I’m not going to use (being shorthanded without Stephenson and Reaves) as an excuse for why we lost. We weren’t good enough.”

Fleury has allowed 18 goals in his past five starts after allowing 18 in his previous nine. He started 17 of 18 games between Feb. 9 and March 17.

When DeBoer was asked if the 2 “soft goals” and the number of surrendered goals over the last few games were fatigued related, he responded, “I don’t think it’s fatigue.” Since [goalie] Robin [Lehner] came back, we’ve tried to give him some good rest. It’s not all on him. He’s had a lack of support in those instances from our group.”

Basically, for the first 30 games of this 56-game season, Vegas dominated, especially in the first period; they lead the league in first-period goals. Over the last 3 games, they’ve surrendered the first goal on the first shot of the 3 games. Last night, the Kings not only scored on their first shot, they got 2 goals past Fleury on just 6 shots — Andreas Athanasiou’s goal at the 1:58 mark and Lias Andersson’s goal at 17:23.

William Karlsson’s goal cut the lead to just one goal halfway through the 2nd period, but the Kings wasted very little time in regaining their 2-goal lead just 2:40 after Karlsson’s goal when Jaret-Anderson-Dolan scored to go 3-1.

Vegas never got closer and they didn’t seem to take the game seriously until the 3rd period. They were outworked and seemed disinterested the first 40 minutes of a game they should have and could have won against a team with a lot less talent. The loss last night dropped Vegas to 2nd place; Colorado beat up on the Anaheim Ducks, just like Vegas was supposed to beat up on the Kings.

The VGK’s 6-game home winning streak was snapped and there were whispers from the departing fans that Stormy Buonantony was to blame after she made note that the VGK were undefeated while playing at T-Mobile in front of their fans. Talk about being superstitious. I’ve read that the VGK would never win a game with their shiny gold helmets and that if you talk about a shutout before the game is over, your dozen free donuts at Krispy-Kreme will be in jeopardy. Hockey fans crack me up. Rest easy, Stormy; you didn’t jinx the home winning streak. The team did it all by themselves by not showing up for the first 40 minutes of the game.

My 3 Stars of the Game

1) Calvin Petersen (39 saves on 41 shots; Petersen has beaten the VGK twice this season)

2) Andreas Athanasiou (1G 1A; his goal was on the very first shot on Fleury; the VGK are NOT HAPPY TO SEE YOU, which is a play on words considering the pronunciation of his last name)

3) Jaret Anderson-Dolan (GWG, which came moments after Karlsson’s goal that squashed any attempt for Vegas to climb back into the game)

Next game is today against the Kings at 7:30 p.m. Pacific Time at T-Mobile.
If you want to hear and see more VGK content, please check out the podcast I do with Eddie Rivkin on YouTube called Hockey Nights in Vegas. Here is a link to our previous podcast.

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

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.

Kings’ first goal on the first shot

Shea Theodore’s goal that got Vegas close

Fleury tries to keep the game close in the 3rd period

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