Las Vegas Sun

January 29, 2022

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Golden Knights defense disappoints in loss to Jets

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Steve Marcus

Winnipeg Jets center Kristian Reichel, center, (87) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the second period of an NHL hockey game at T-Mobile Arena Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022.

The Golden Knights fired a season-high 46 shots on goal and scored four times against arguably the best goalie in the world, including tying the game with nine seconds left on Sunday afternoon.

One game after Vegas scored six goals, the offense again played well enough to win.

But the defense is a different story.

Vegas allowed four unanswered goals in the second and third periods, and the killshot in overtime as they fell to the Winnipeg Jets, 5-4 at T-Mobile Arena.

“If you get four on (Jets goalie Connor) Hellebuyck, you should find a way to win the game,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “It wasn’t the offense that was the issue, it was defending and keeping pucks out of our net.”

When the Golden Knights lose this season — and granted that hasn’t been often — it’s often been because of play in the defensive end. This was just the third loss in Vegas’ last 13 games, so a defeat like this feels more like a blip than the trend it was early in the year.

It was the sixth time in 35 games this year the Golden Knights allowed five or more goals in a game, after only allowing that many four times in all 56 games last season. After Michael Amadio and Evgenii Dadonov scored in the first period, the Jets scored the next four, taking a 4-2 lead into the final half of the third period.

That’s where the good news came.

Mattias Janmark scored twice, including deflecting an Alex Pietrangelo shot off his skate to tie the game with nine seconds remaining. They had one more shot in overtime, giving them 46 to set a season-high for the second game in a row.

They tagged 2020 Norris Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck for four goals and grabbed a standings point out of nowhere, even if Kyle Connor’s overtime goal denied them the other one. By many accounts it was a good outing for the Golden Knights, even if the wrong letter is going up in the standings.

“Overall it’s a game we should have won and we want to we kind of gave that one up,” Janmark said. “Also you can look at it that we came back from two goals down, so it’s a good point in that way but we want to win that game.”

While Laurent Brossoit made some terrific saves — the diving glove stop on Nikolaj Ehlers in the third period will go on his season highlight reel — he was responsible for five goals allowed on 37 shots, dropping his season save percentage to .900 for the season.

He made his fourth start in a row Sunday while Robin Lehner is out with a lower-body injury, and the results, like this game have been spotty. He’s picked up two victories, but has allowed 12 goals on 99 shots — a save percentage of .869.

It’s hard to win games when opponents are scoring on nearly 13% of their shots. And when the defense allows an opponent 37 looks at the net, bad things tend to happen.

“We would have liked to stay a little tighter in our own end and execute better in that regard,” forward Michael Amadio said. “We still battled back there at the end.”