The Golden Knights rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the game, but the Senators eventually buried them for good in a 5-4 loss Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.
Vegas got back-to-back goals from William Karlsson and Ryan Carpenter early in the third period to tie the game 4-4, but Alexandre Burrows tipped a rocket slap shot from Erik Karlsson past Marc-Andre Fleury to seal the win for the Senators.
The goal was Karlsson’s 35th of the season. He beat Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson between his pads after the Senators’ defense left him all alone entering the offensive zone.
Ryan Carpenter tied the game shortly after on a spectacular individual effort shorthanded.
The Senators stopped a couple last-ditch efforts by Vegas in the final moments. Anderson made a big save on Erik Haula with only 15 seconds left to close the game out.
Senators lead 4-2 after two periods
The Golden Knights have surrendered three-straight goals and trail the Senators 4-2 after two periods at T-Mobile Arena.
Ottawa tied the game 2-2 early in the second period when Mark Stone threaded a long stretch pass through the Golden Knights’ defense to Bobby Ryan, who beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a low shot between his pads.
The Senators took the lead for the first time tonight on their third power play attempt of the game. Matt Duchene shot the puck through Deryk Engelland’s legs and past Fleury to put Ottawa up 3-2 with 9:15 left in the second period.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau stretched the Senators’ lead to 4-2 with a blistering slap shot that elevated over Fleury’s blocker and into the top corner of the net.
The Golden Knights have the best record in the NHL when trailing after two periods at 6-11-1.
Golden Knights lead 2-1 after one period
If you were a few minutes late to your seat at T-Mobile Arena for tonight’s contest between the Golden Knights and Senators, you missed a lot.
Vegas scored on the first shot of the game, only 58 seconds in, when Reilly Smith backhanded the puck over Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson’s shoulder for his 22nd goal of the season.
The Senators quickly answered with a goal by Mark Stone, who scored his team-leading 20th goal of the year only 2:19 into the game.
The Golden Knights didn’t get another shot on goal for nearly 17 minutes, and finished the period with only three, but Colin Miller’s power play goal in the closing minutes gave them a 2-1 lead after one period.
It was Miller’s eighth goal of the season and was assisted by Brad Hunt and Erik Haula.
After missing six games with an illness, Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore will return to the lineup tonight, as Vegas hosts the Ottawa Senators at T-Mobile Arena.
Theodore’s 18 points this season are fourth among Golden Knights defensemen. His speed and skating ability are a welcome addition to the defensive group.
“I’m excited to be back,” Theodore said. “It was tough, especially not being around the rink with the guys ... It feels good to be back, and I’m ready to go.”
Brad Hunt will also be back in the lineup in place of Nate Schmidt. James Neal and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare both remain out with upper-body injuries and are considered day-to-day, according to coach Gerard Gallant.
“Hunt and I have been hanging out the last few games up top (in the press box),” Theodore said. “We’re both excited, and it’s going to be a fun atmosphere.”
At 7-18-5, the Senators own the worst road record in the NHL. With less than 20 games remaining in the regular season and the third-worst record in the league, the Senators’ playoff hopes have already been dashed. But Gallant still sees the talent that got them within a game of the Stanley Cup Finals last summer.
“They’re in a dangerous position,” Gallant said. “They’ve had a tough year but you look at their roster and say they’re still a dangerous team.”
Teams out of contention remain challenges, even late in the season. The cellar-dwelling Arizona Coyotes are 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, and they snapped the Minnesota Wild’s five-game winning streak Thursday night. Sitting at the bottom of the Eastern Conference are the Buffalo Sabres, who have won three of four, including Wednesday night’s overtime win over the league-leading Tampa Bay Lightning.
“Every game is important for everybody, and every team wants to win hockey games,” Gallant said. “Some teams have no pressure and they’re going out there and playing well, so you have to be ready to play.”
The Golden Knights are coming off two tough losses to the Los Angeles Kings and have fallen two points behind the Nashville Predators for first place in the Western Conference, so focus shouldn’t be an issue.
“They’re going to try to take as many points away from teams that they’re playing and come hard tonight,” Theodore said. “It’s kind of crunch time for everyone, scrambling for points. We are going to play hard night in and night out just trying to get as many points as we can.”
Prediction: Golden Knights 4, Senators 2
Season record for predictions: 33-21
Puck drops: 7 p.m.
Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM
TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 313, CenturyLink Prism 1760)
Betting line: Golden Knights minus-265, Total 6 minus-120 to the over
Golden Knights (41-17-5) (24-6-2 home)
Coach: Gerard Gallant
Goal leader: William Karlsson (34)
Assist leader: David Perron (42)
Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (21-7-3, 2.15 goals against average)
Ottawa Senators (21-31-10) (7-18-5 away)
Coach: Guy Boucher
Goal leader: Mark Stone (19)
Assist leader: Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone (38)
Expected goalie: Craig Anderson (17-20-5, 3.27 goals against average)
Golden Knights' game-day roster
Forwards (12): Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Oscar Lindberg, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Ryan Reaves, Reilly Smith and Alex Tuch.
Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brad Hunt, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller, Shea Theodore.
Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Maxime Lagace