Live blog: Wild defeat Golden Knights with back-to-back third-period goals

A lot of gametime decisions’ tonight for Vegas

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John Locher / Associated Press

Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) skates against the Minnesota Wild during the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 3, 2021, in Las Vegas.

Published Sat, Apr 3, 2021 (4:30 p.m.)

Updated Sat, Apr 3, 2021 (8:35 p.m.)

A poor third period doomed the Golden Knights to their third straight defeat, a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild Saturday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Minnesota scored twice in less than a minute in the third period for the victory, the first on a power play by Kirill Kaprizov and the second a wrister from Joel Eriksson Ek. The Golden Knights’ only goal came just more than five minutes into the game when Tomas Nosek pounced on a puck fired off the boards by Alex Tuch to beat Cam Talbot.

Talbot was otherwise sharp, stopping 27 shots even though the Golden Knights didn’t compile many high-quality looks. Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury had 25 saves, but couldn’t do much with his defense leaving him in precarious positions for both of the goals.

The Wild are now only two points behind the Golden Knights in the standings for second place in the West Division. Vegas next travels to St. Louis for games against the Blues on Monday and Wednesday.

Check back to lasvegassun.com later for more coverage and read below for live updates from the game.

Wild up 2-1 on the Golden Knights with game winding down

Less than a minute after Kirill Kaprizov got the tying goal on the Golden Knights, Joel Eriksson Ek nabbed the go-ahead. The Wild lead the Golden Knights 2-1 with 10 minutes left to play in the third period.

Vegas’ defense let Eriksson Ek settle in front of the goal and he fired the puck past Marc-Andre Fleury off of a pass from Ryan Suter. Having also assisted on the previous goal and gotten in a skirmish on Thursday, Eriksson Ek has become quite the Golden Knight antagonist.

Wild tie the game with 13 minutes still to play

The Golden Knights have failed to capitalize on their power-play opportunities tonight. The Wild haven’t.

Minnesota just tied the game at 1-1 with a goal right in front of Marc-Andre Fleury by Kirill Kaprizov from Joel Eriksson Ek during its first full power play. Minnesota’s earlier power play was interrupted early when it picked up a penalty of its own to go to 4-on-4 play.

The Wild’s power play ranks dead last in the league this season but it’s now beaten the Golden Knights for tying goals in the third period for two consecutive games.

Golden Knights still up 1-0 on Wild after second period

If you like defensive, goalie-starring grinds then the second period between the Golden Knights and Wild was a thrill. Otherwise, you may have found it a bit dull.

The game sits locked with the same score after 20 more minutes of play with Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury continually keeping pucks out of the net. The Golden Knights specifically had chances to add to their lead in the second period but they all fell short, including on two power plays.

The best opportunity came on a Jonathan Marchessault breakaway, but the veteran missed the net on a wrister. For the game, the Wild lead the Golden Knights 19-17 in shots on goal though both teams managed seven apiece in the second period.

Golden Knights lead Wild 1-0 after first period

Tomas Nosek kept up his recent hot streak to give the Golden Knights an early lead over the Wild with one of the stranger goals of the season.

Nosek backhanded the puck past the Wild’s Cam Talbot after it hit off the boards while every one around him — even his own teammates — slowed up. Vegas forward Patrick Roy and a trio of Wild players apparently thought the Golden Knights were offsides and more or less stopped on the play.

But not Nosek, and now the Golden Knights are ahead as a result of his awareness. Roy and Alex Tuch were credited with assists on the goal that came 5:33 into the game. Nosek now has a point in four of Vegas’ last five games.

The Wild spent plenty of time in the Golden Knight’s zone during the period, but Marc-Andre Fleury managed 13 saves to keep his team in the lead.

Pregame

The Golden Knights suffered their first set of back-to-back home losses in coach Pete DeBoer’s tenure their last time out. Tonight, they look to avoid their first three-game losing streak of the season.

The season’s sixth game between Vegas and the Minnesota Wild begins at 6 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena. The Golden Knights have now lost the last three meetings with the Wild after winning the first two this year.

The showdowns are becoming more meaningful as the teams jockey for playoff positioning in the West Division. Vegas currently sits four points ahead of Minnesota but two behind Colorado in first — though with one game in hand — with 21 games to go.

“Colorado looks like they might not lose another game so we’re going to have to keep up,” DeBoer said this morning.

Every win matters at this point but tonight’s might be hard to come by with Vegas looking likely to be shorthanded for the third straight game. Chandler Stephenson is out, serving the second game in a three-game suspension, while both Zach Whitecloud and Ryan Reaves remain injured.

DeBoer didn’t clarity their statues other than to say the team had “a lot of gametime decisions tonight.” Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to start in net after Robin Lehner played in Thursday’s 3-2 shootout loss but he was also unconfirmed.

Cam Talbot, the star of Thursday’s win for the Wild, will start for Minnesota. Having earned at least one point in six of their last seven games, the Wild are coming on strong and looking to crash what was once thought to be a race primarily between Colorado and Vegas.

TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760)

Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM

Betting line: Golden Knights -155, Wild +135; over/under: 5.5

Golden Knights (24-9-1, 49 points; 2nd place, West Division)

Coach: Pete DeBoer (second season)

Points leader: Mark Stone (40)

Goals leader: Max Pacioretty (18)

Assists leader: Mark Stone (28)

Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.14 GAA, .924 save percentage)

Wild (21-11-2, 44 points; 3rd place, West Division)

Coach: Dean Evason (second season)

Points leader: Kirill Kaprisov (30)

Goals leader: Kirill Kaprisov (13)

Assists leaders: Kirill Kaprisov, Jordan Greenway (17)

Expected goalie: Cam Talbot (2.34 GAA, .927 save percentage)

Golden Knights projected lineup

Forwards

Max Pacioretty—Tomas Nosek—Mark Stone

Jonathan Marchessault—William Karlsson—Reilly Smith

Keegan Kolesar—Nicolas Roy—Alex Tuch

William Carrier—Patrick Brown—Ryan Reaves

Defensemen

Alec Martinez—Shea Theodore

Brayden McNabb—Alex Pietrangelo

Nicolas Hague—Zach Whitecloud

Goalies

Robin Lehner, Marc-Andre Fleury

Case Keefer can be reached at 702-948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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