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December 12, 2018

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Knights need to ‘get it going or it’s going to be a long season’

Gallant

David Becker / AP

Golden Knights coach Gerald Gallant stands behind players during the third period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, in Las Vegas.

It’s been almost a month since the Golden Knights have won back-to-back games. That was supposed to change Friday with the last-place St. Louis Blues in town and Vegas coming off arguably its best performance of the season earlier in the week.

And then the Golden Knights scored first, picking up where they left off Wednesday in a thorough, five-goal win.

But the Blues scored 38 seconds later and closed the game with four unanswered goals in a 4-1 win at T-Mobile Arena. The inconsistent play has been a common theme for the reigning Western Conference champion Golden Knights, keeping them in the bottom of the standings in a wide-open Pacific Division.

“It’s early in the season but this has happened way too often,” Golden Knights center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “Obviously it’s frustrating to talk about it. You want to, when you talk about it, kind of get it figured out and you go out there and do better.”

Vegas won three straight games in mid-October, but has won just three times since. The previous two wins preceded hopping on a plane to travel to a new city, but with consecutive home games against teams near the bottom of the standings, the first of which was a 5-0 drubbing of the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday, it was easy to be optimistic.

Instead, the Golden Knights gave up three goals in the second period to St. Louis, then took three penalties in the third to rob themselves of six valuable minutes that could have been used to get back in the game.

“I was more disappointed in the third period than anything else because we didn’t have the pushback,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “We’re down 4-1 and I expected our guys to come out hard and get a goal early and I just didn’t see that.”

Luckily for Vegas, no one is running away with the Pacific. At 8-11-1, the Golden Knights’ 17 points are second-fewest in the NHL, but they sit four points out of a playoff spot and six points out of first place.

A hot streak could put the Golden Knights back on a fast track to the postseason. The good news is that their next five games are all against teams ahead of them in the Pacific. The bad news is that they don’t have a clear answer for how to carry the momentum from a win into the next game.

“We just gotta find that game that we play, for instance last game against Anaheim, that full 60 minutes, simple game all night long and be satisfied with that,” defenseman Deryk Engelland said. “We gotta throw the last 20 games behind us and get it going or it’s going to be a long season if we don’t.”

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