Wild fails on power-play chances, loses 3-2 to Vegas

Laurent Brossoit (39) and Dylan Coghlan (52) of the Vegas Golden Knights defend the net against Joel Eriksson Ek (14) of the Minnesota Wild in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 11, 2021 in Las Vegas. The Golden Knights edged the Wild, 3-2. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images/TNS)
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Sarah McLellan Star Tribune (TNS)

LAS VEGAS – Not one but two pucks sailed out of play off the sticks of the Las Vegas Golden Knights, who were already shorthanded.

That meant not one but two 5-on-3 power plays for the Minnesota Wild.

The latter was a plump 1 minute, 39 seconds, an eternity in two-man advantages and a glorious chance for the Wild to climb back into the game.

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But the Wild whiffed on both opportunities and the three straight power plays overall, the eyesore in a clunky 3-2 loss to Vegas on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena that snapped the team’s four-game win streak in its first meeting with the Golden Knights since they eliminated the Wild from the playoffs last season.

Trailing 2-0 in the second period, the Wild went to the power play with a chance to eat into that deficit.

Instead, the team got off only one shot and not even the nicest one. That belonged to Vegas’ Chandler Stephenson, who was stopped on a shorthanded breakaway by Wild goalie Cam Talbot.

With 14 seconds left in the power play, the Golden Knights’ Nicolas Hague sent the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty.

The Wild didn’t capitalize on the ensuing 5-on-3, with backup goalie Laurent Brossoit making saves on Kevin Fiala and Kirill Kaprizov, but the team received a do-over when Alex Pietrangelo also put the puck over the boards for another delay of game penalty.

That served up a 5-on-3 for 1:39 and while the Wild had plenty of possession that led to three shots – including a look right in front by Eriksson Ek that forced a clutch stop from Brossoit, the Wild remained goalless – blanking on 4:08 of uninterrupted power play time.

Then, with 7 seconds left in the second, Vegas widened its lead to 3 when Jonathan Marchessault buried a 2-on-1 pass from Reilly Smith.

The Wild did answer back, just 1:20 into the third period when captain Jared Spurgeon pinched and went top-shelf over Brossoit – this after Brossoit stopped Spurgeon twice on that last 5-on-3. Kaprizov’s handoff was his fifth point in his last five games.

Later, with 6:25 to go in the third, Ryan Hartman pulled the Wild within a goal on a one-timer that was his team-leading seventh goal. But time ran out before the Wild could get any closer, a rare unsuccessful rally for the Wild, which has a league-high seven comebacks.

The power play finished 0-for-6, and the Golden Knights went 0-for-2.

While the outcome was the same as Game 7 when the Wild was ousted from the first round of the playoffs, the Vegas lineup was much different.

The Golden Knights traded away the Wild’s main nemesis from that series, goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, and other key players like Mark Stone, Max Pacioretty and William Karlsson were absent due to injury.

Even Alex Tuch was gone; the former Wild forward was part of last week’s blockbuster deal that brought Jack Eichel to Vegas from Buffalo.

But the newcomers were just as effective.

A pair of first NHL goals were the difference, from Vegas fourth-liners Paul Cotter and Jonas Rondbjerg, and Brossoit blocked 22 total shots in a timid push from the Wild after it cruised to a 5-2 victory the previous night at Arizona.

After that game, the Wild looked like it was rolling and had the potential to keep the momentum going against a Golden Knights squad riddled with injury and sitting its top goalie in Robin Lehner.

Instead, the new look delivered for Vegas against an out-of-sorts Wild group.

Talbot was under pressure early, with Cotter burying his first goal in his second game at 6:08 of the first period.

Later in the period, Cotter’s linemate Rondbjerg got by Wild defenseman Alex Goligoski before lifting the puck over Talbot at 16:41 for his second point of the night in just his seventh NHL game.

Talbot ended up with 32 saves.

The Wild’s road trip wraps up Saturday at Seattle.

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