Monday, May 24, 2021 | 11:59 p.m.
Alex Pietrangelo couldn’t catch up to the puck that sealed the Golden Knights’ fate on Monday night.
It was a 137-foot bank shot by the Wild from the other end of the ice that landed in an empty net. Pietrangelo, after giving chase, also fell helplessly into the goal.
The Golden Knights were dominant for 40 minutes of Game 5 of the first round playoff series, outshooting the Wild by an astonishing 32-7 margin in the final two frames. But a three-goal first period from Minnesota proved to be too much, and the empty-netter ended Vegas’ hopes of a comeback in a 4-2 loss at T-Mobile Arena.
“If you replay that game, nine times out of 10 you probably win,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We didn’t tonight.”
Instead of clinching the series at home, Vegas will again attempt to eliminate the Wild on Wednesday in Game 6. If Vegas plays like to did Monday, even though the end result was a defeat, it should have a good chance to close the series.
After all, there were some notable positives in the loss, including Mark Stone scoring his fourth goal of the series. The Golden Knights also broke through on the power play with Alec Martinez scoring in the second period with the man advantage. Vegas entered 1-for-11 on the power play in the series.
But after allowing Minnesota to score three times on its first six shots, Vegas dug itself too big of a deficit.
“The looks they got, they found a way to put them in. The puck was bouncing their way,” DeBoer said. “They were opportunistic, and I think we weren’t.”
This game bore a lot of similarities to Game 3 in Minnesota last week, where the Wild had a terrific first period to grab a two-goal lead, but only had nine shots to rest of the game. Vegas came storming back with five goals for the win.
The Golden Knights couldn’t again rally in Game 5, knowing they missed a chance to close out a series at home for the first time in franchise’s four-year history.
“I think if we come with the same effort, we’re going to get a different result but we can’t be down 3-1 after the first period,” Stone said. “It finally cost us.”
It’s hard for any team in this league to play from behind and win, even though the Golden Knights did just that in Games 2 and 3. Still, Vegas made things interesting in the second period by outshooting the Wild 22-1. They had 40 attempts on goal in the second; Minnesota managed just three.
So, the series will continue. The Golden Knights will travel back to Xcel Energy Center, a building in which they couldn’t win before last week, and in which they looked like they couldn’t lose in Games 3 and 4.
It’s a shame for the Golden Knights because they had all the opportunities in the world to pack for Denver for a second round series with Colorado, and not St. Paul for another game with the Wild.
“We could have easily tied the game up, could have easily been ahead,” Stone said. “If we capitalize on a few chances, I think we’re sitting here with a different outcome.”