The Golden Knights were dominated from the opening puck drop to the final whistle Friday night in Minnesota.
Whether it was due to it being the second night of a back-to-back and third game in four days for the Golden Knights, or because the Wild just out played them, Vegas was never in the game in a 5-2 loss.
The Wild jumped out to a 3-0 lead early in the second period when Tyler Ennis beat Vegas goaltender Malcolm Subban with a wrist shot.
Vegas’ first goal came on the power play when Erik Haula deflected Colin Miller’s shot past Devan Dubnyk. The goal was Haula’s 20th of the season and extended his goal streak to five straight games.
The Golden Knights have relied on a strong penalty kill all season, having stopped 44 of the last 46 chances prior to Friday. That wasn’t the case in St. Paul as the Wild scored two power play goals on four chances.
Nate Schmidt scored another power play goal (Vegas’ ninth in the last six games) late in the third period to make it 4-2 but it was too late to spark a comeback.
Minnesota forward Eric Staal was credited with the final goal to make it 5-2. He was streaking down the ice chasing after the puck with an empty net for the Golden Knights when David Perron hooked him. By rule, Minnesota was awarded an automatic goal to ice the game for good.
Minnesota outshot Vegas 36-24 and led comfortably for most of the game to improve to 18-4-4 at home this season.
The Golden Knights will have to find their legs quickly, as they have one day off before playing the Capitals in Washington D.C. on Sunday, and the defending Stanley Cup Champion Penguins in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.
Minnesota leads 4-1 after two periods
The Minnesota Wild’s onslaught on the Golden Knights continued during the second period Friday night in St. Paul.
Minnesota leads Vegas 4-1 after two periods and has outshot the Golden Knights 30-13.
The Wild extended their lead to 3-0 only 1:11 into the period when Tyler Ennis beat Malcolm Subban with a hard wrist shot beneath Subban’s glove.
The Golden Knights finally got on the board midway through the period when Erik Haula scored his 20th goal of the season. Haula redirected Colin Miller’s shot from the point past Minnesota goalie Devan Dubnyk to extend his goal streak to five games.
Just when it appeared Vegas may crawl back into the contest, Minnesota scored its second power play goal of the game when Jared Spurgeon’s shot ricocheted off Brayden McNabb’s skate and into the net.
Minnesota leads 2-0 after one period
The Golden Knights stumbled out of the gate in Minnesota, and the Wild took advantage.
Minnesota scored twice in the opening period to claim a comfortable 2-0 lead after 20 minutes of hockey in St. Paul.
Malcolm Subban, who is making his first start since Jan. 19, played extremely well with 17 saves including a pair of impressive pad saves while the Golden Knights were shorthanded.
The Wild eventually cashed in on the man advantage when Mike Reilly fed a long, cross-ice pass to Eric Staal who put it into the net before Subban could get across the crease.
Minnesota extended its lead when Charlie Coyle got the puck off of an offensive zone faceoff and shot the puck just inside the short side goal post. Subban never saw the shot as he was screened on the play.
The Golden Knights were outshot 19-8, and are 6-4-3 this season when trailing after the first period.
Tonight, the Golden Knights are in Minnesota to take on the Wild. The game will be nationally televised from Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, only a 10-minute drive across the Mississippi River from the site of Super Bowl 52 on Sunday.
Vegas is already off to a fantastic start to their six-game road trip, with wins in Calgary and Winnipeg. The Golden Knights will look to continue that success tonight against a team they’ve already lost to once this season.
The Wild got the best of Vegas in a 4-2 win on Nov. 30 in Minnesota. Malcolm Subban, who will play goalie for Vegas tonight, was in net for the Golden Knights in that game, too, although it was under different circumstances. Marc-Andre Fleury was on injured reserve then.
Subban enters this game with seven wins in his last eight starts, and the Golden Knights have earned a point in all eight games. He leads all rookie goaltenders with 11 wins this season.
He’ll face a Wild scoring attack that doesn’t exactly strike fear into the opposition. Minnesota has some nice pieces, led by veteran centerman Eric Staal, who leads the team in points with 20 goals and 23 assists. His linemates Nino Niederreiter and Tyler Ennis have only 19 and 13 points, respectively.
In one word, the Minnesota Wild are average. Their record of 27-18-5 ranks 15th in the NHL, and they rank 16th in the league in both goals per game (2.9) and goals allowed per game (2.8).
With a good performance, the Golden Knights should be able to handle the Wild, but it is their second game in as many days. Luckily for Vegas, it hasn’t performed particularly poorly under those circumstances this season, with a record of 4-3-1 on the second night of back-to-back games.
The Golden Knights’ leading scorer, William Karlsson, (27 goals) hasn’t scored a goal in the last three games, which is his longest such streak since Dec. 19. He will be looking to get onto the scoresheet tonight in a game oddsmakers are expecting to be low-scoring, with a total of 5.5 with the under a minus-115 favorite.
Prediction : Golden Knights 3, Wild 2
Season record for predictions: 27-17
Puck drops: 5 p.m.
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: NBC Sports (DirecTV 220, Cox 1038, CenturyLink Prism 1640)
Betting line: Golden Knights plus-128, Total 5.5 minus-115 to the under
Golden Knights (34-12-4) (15-9-2 road)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: William Karlsson (27)
Assist leader: Jonathan Marchessault and David Perron (30)
Expected goalie: Malcolm Subban (11-2-1, 2.49 goals against average)
Minnesota Wild (27-18-5) (17-4-4 road)
Coach: Bruce Boudreau
Goal leader: Eric Staal (20)
Assist leader: Ryan Suter (26)
Expected goalie: Devan Dubnyk (19-10-3, 2.65 goals against average)
Golden Knights game day roster
Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, William Carrier, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, David Perron, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Jason Garrison, Brayden McNabb, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Malcolm Subban and Marc-Andre Fleury