Home losses have become a rarity since Pete DeBoer took over as head coach of the Vegas Golden Knights on Jan. 15, 2020. However, Thursday’s 3-2 shootout defeat at the hands of the Minnesota Wild — which the Golden Knights will look to avenge when they meet again on Saturday — brought a strange sensation.
It marked the first time in more than a calendar year the Golden Knights have lost consecutive home games, whether in regulation time or beyond 60 minutes. Since DeBoer stepped behind the Vegas bench, his team has racked up an incredible 22-4-3 record — including a 14-3-2 mark this season — at T-Mobile Arena.
“I don’t remember all the wins, but I can tell you we probably won a few of those games and didn’t play nearly as well as we did (Thursday),” DeBoer said. “I really liked our effort, I really liked our game. We got contributions from everyone. … It was just one of those nights we just didn’t stick the puck in the net.”
Understandably, the Golden Knights aren’t stressing out after their loss to Minnesota. Despite playing short-handed — with only 10 forwards — due to a combination of injuries, a suspension and salary-cap troubles, Vegas was just as equal to the task as the Wild. Had it not been for a handful of highlight-reel saves by Minnesota goaltender Cam Talbot, the Golden Knights would have claimed victory in regulation time.
Therefore, the Golden Knights will use the disappointment as motivation in the rematch.
“It’s disappointing, for sure,” said Vegas defenseman Brayden McNabb, who ended a 66-game goal drought with a third-period tally. “You want two points. Their goalie played well. It’s a tough one to swallow. It’s a big deal we got one, and we’ll do it again Saturday.”
The Wild have won three of five meetings this season, and not only did Thursday’s win snap a five-game road losing streak, it pulled Minnesota within four points of second-place Vegas in the West Division, adding to the playoff-like atmosphere.
“Obviously every game is a four-point game this year, every game means a little bit more,” Talbot said. “You know that you’re gonna have to come through this team if you wanna make it through our division in the playoffs. This is a tough building to play in and this gives us a lot of confidence moving forward that we can come in here, play a game like that and come out with a big win.”
Winning on the road is a big boost for a team which boasts a great home record (13-3-0) but has been middling away from the Land of 10,000 Lakes (9-8-2).
“We’ve been playing so well at home and it hasn’t translated for wins on the road lately, but … we brought a great road game, we did the little things that we need to do to win games,” Talbot said. “It was just a gritty team effort and that’s how you have to win on the road.”
That said, the Wild must be better in Saturday’s clash if they want to improve on their recent success, a 4-1-1 mark in their last six outings.
“It was an exciting game, but we made some very unintelligent plays,” coach Dean Evason said. “We made it harder on ourselves in a lot of different situations. We definitely have to clean that up, but the one thing we didn’t doubt about our group is that they tried their butts off. Certainly starting from our goaltender who saved our butts on several, several opportunities.”
–Field Level Media