After his team’s franchise-record 10-game winning streak came to an end with a 3-0 loss to the Arizona Coyotes on Friday night, Vegas captain Mark Stone was still in a somewhat lighthearted mood.
“I joked with the guys, ‘We’re not the Harlem Globetrotters, you can’t win them all,'” Stone said. “We’ve won 10 of our last 11 games. We’re not going to win every game.”
The Golden Knights (35-12-2, 72 points), who saw their West Division lead fall to four points over second-place Colorado, now will try to salvage a split of their back-to-back with the Coyotes on Saturday night in Glendale, Ariz., before heading to Minnesota for a back-to-back with the third-place Wild.
Stone admitted that his team, which was coming off a 5-2 home victory over the Avalanche on Wednesday, might have suffered a letdown heading into Friday’s loss against an Arizona team that had dropped nine of its previous 11 games.
“It’s tough,” Stone said. “We’re playing some really good hockey. Might have had a little bit of an emotional letdown after playing Colorado. Those guys (Arizona) are fighting for their lives. They don’t have many points to give if they want to get into the playoffs. They played desperate. But, overall, offensively we just weren’t very good.”
Vegas scored 45 goals over its win streak and had tallied five goals in each of its three previous games. But the Golden Knights managed just 12 shots on goal over the final 40 minutes, and Adin Hill registered his second shutout of the season with 25 saves.
“We won 10 games in a row, and this is a hard league to win two games in a row in, never mind 11,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “You have to give them credit. They were desperate. They were energized. They were coming in off of a couple of losses. I thought they played a really good game.”
Arizona (22-24-5, 49 points) closed to within three points of fourth-place St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the West. However, the Blues, winners of four straight, still have three games in hand.
“It was a desperate effort out of our guys,” Hill said. “We had a couple of tough losses on the road trip and came back home and got off to a good start. We established our forecheck early and the guys kept going all game. They were workhorses out there. It was awesome to watch.”
Still, with just five regular-season games remaining, even Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet wondered if maybe it was too little, too late.
“Guys all dug in. It was a good team effort,” Tocchet said. “Hillie gave us a game. I thought he was really solid. I thought we worked hard (but) it was anticlimactic a little bit. It’s a nice win but you wish things were a little bit different the last couple of weeks.”
It was the first loss for Vegas since April 7, when the Golden Knights dropped a 3-1 decision at St. Louis. And with just seven games remaining in the regular-season, including a May 10 home date with Colorado, Stone made it clear his team can’t afford any more slip-ups if they want to claim the West crown and top playoff seed.
“We’ll build off this and be ready to play tomorrow,” Stone said. “It’s a big one for us. We’ve got to continue to win games if we want to get to where we want to be at the end of the year.”
Vegas center Jonathan Marchessault (lower body) was a late scratch Friday and DeBoer listed him as day-to-day.
–Field Level Media
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