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April 18, 2019

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Subban stellar in goal, but Golden Knights suffer first shutout loss of season


Jay LaPrete / AP

Blue Jackets players celebrate their goal against the Golden Knights’ Malcolm Subban during the third period Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, in Columbus, Ohio. The Blue Jackets won 1-0.

Had you told Malcolm Subban that he would make 30 saves in his first outing in a month and give up only one goal, he would have taken it, thinking it would have come with his first win of the season.

But the Golden Knights failed to score for the first time this season, and Columbus scored 40 seconds into the third period to give the Blue Jackets a 1-0 home win Monday at Nationwide Arena.

“It’s too bad we didn’t get any points here tonight because (Subban) played a great game and unfortunately you lose 1-0,” coach Gerard Gallant told AT&T SportsNet. “We can’t seem to score when he’s in the net. It’s too bad because he was outstanding for us.”

The Golden Knights finished their four-game East Coast road trip 2-1-1 with five of a possible eight points.

Here are three takeaways from the loss:

Subban was terrific

He may still be winless on the year, but it’s clear that the Golden Knights have a capable backup in Subban.

Subban made his first start Monday since Vegas’ seven-goal disaster in Calgary on Nov. 19 and looked as fresh as could be. He was sharp from the get-go, batting away a shot from the slot 90 seconds into the game, then stuffing an Anthony Duclair 1-on-1 look midway through the first.

“You want to make a big save early if you have the chance to, and it kind of sets the tone for the game,” Subban said to AT&T SportsNet. “You haven’t played in a long time, so getting in there gave me a lot of confidence to play the rest of the game.”

Starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury had started the previous 13 games, including both games in a back-to-back twice.

Offense took too long to arrive

While Subban was making saves at one end, Vegas could not string together offense at the other. The Golden Knights had just nine shots through the game’s 30 minutes.

“I think they played good in their (defensive) zone,” forward Jonathan Marchessault said. “They have good defensemen and you have to give credit to their system tonight.”

That changed in the third period, and the Golden Knights seemed to get stronger as the night went on. They pounded Columbus goalie Sergei Bobrovsky in the third period to the tune of 14 shots, and Bobrovsky had to earn his first shutout of the season.

The Blue Jackets kept forcing the puck in deep, and Vegas couldn’t get Subban out of the net until the final minute of the game. Vegas had five shot attempts with the extra attacker including two on goal, but nothing was beating Bobrovsky on Monday.

Pacioretty out, All-American Line can’t find groove

The Golden Knights were finally getting healthy, and finally assembled the Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-Alex Tuch line they had envisioned in the offseason.

Then Pacioretty left the second period with what appeared to be a leg injury, and the “All-American Line” lasted one full game.

Pacioretty has had more than his share of injuries this season, missing four games at the end of October into November, the Dec. 4 game against Washington and Friday against New Jersey. The extent of his injury and if he will miss any time is unknown, but coupled with Alex Tuch missing the first eight games and Paul Stastny returning Friday after only playing the first three games, that line has been unable to find any continuity.

The Golden Knights alternated players to take Pacioretty’s shifts in the second period, then turned primarily to Marchessault in the third.

“It never helps when you lose players in the game,” Gallant told AT&T SportsNet. “It’s a tough game back-to-back and you lose a player in the second period, but it didn’t affect the game.”

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