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MINNESOTA WILD 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (31-16-6, 68 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights only needed :22 seconds to take the early lead over the Minnesota Wild. Jonathan Marchessault added his 27th goal of 2023-24 on his first shift of the game. Midway through the period, the Golden Knights committed several penalties at once, giving a lengthy two-man advantage to the Wild. Minnesota promptly scored twice on the power play and took a 2-1 lead. Michael Amadio evened the score before the break on a late Golden Knights power play.

Both teams battled for possession in the middle frame with the Golden Knights having several opportunities to snap the 2-2 tie. Minnesota committed three penalties in the second period but Vegas couldn’t convert in any of them.

The scoring picked up in the final 20 minutes. Minnesota took the lead at the 6:28 mark of the frame and scored a minute later to make it a 4-2 advantage. Mark Stone gave Vegas life by cutting the score to 4-3 but the Wild tacked on an empty-net goal to finish off the reigning Stanley Cup champions.

The Golden Knights record drops to 31-16-6 losing the Wild 5-3. Vegas will have the next few days before they face off against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights got themselves into a bit of trouble in the 1st by taking three straight penalties. They played well at 5-on-5 for most of the night but kind of fell apart at the start of the 3rd. The pushback was decent but they have got to sort out this 6-on-5 thing. They cannot give up the empty net goal every single time. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Minnesota Wild at T-Mobile Arena.

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VGK Used Physical “Competitive Advantage” To Generate Offense Against Minnesota Wild

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Typically, when we think of tall, heavy teams in the NHL, we equate them with big hits, strength along the walls, and boxing out in front of the goal.

For the Golden Knights, one of the physically largest teams set to compete in the playoff this year, it tends to materialize in a different way.

Vegas ranks just 12th in the league in hits and they have only one player in the top 40 in the category. They certainly are strong along the walls but rarely will we see a game dominated by VGK pushing the opposition off the puck. And while Bruce Cassidy’s zone defense has helped with winning pucks in front of the goalie, of playoff-likely teams only the Edmonton Oilers have allowed more rebound goals at 5-on-5 this year.

Where size has helped the Golden Knights most is when they are in possession of the puck. Vegas has been one of the best teams scoring goals off the rush in the NHL, but when they spend time in the offensive zone they are not the most creative. So, instead, they rely on wearing down opponents and exposing lapses in coverage to score. The best way they’ve done this is with extended puck possession, especially by one player holding the puck for 5-10 seconds at a time.

When VGK are at their best, they begin to control games by holding the puck near the faceoff circles in the offensive zone. Jack Eichel, Nic Roy, William Karlsson, Chandler Stephenson, Jonathan Marchessault, and many other Golden Knights forwards are excellent at fending off defensemen to maintain possession of the puck. The longer they are able to hold it, the more options open up as the defense scrambles to stay in position. From low-to-high passes that bring VGK’s offensive-minded defensemen into the play to cycling the puck behind the net to let the next forward hold it, eventually, better more dangerous passing lanes become available.

This has all been especially evident in the last two games against the Minnesota Wild, and Cassidy has a theory as to why.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 MINNESOTA WILD 3 (48-22-7, 103 PTS) – SO (3-2)

Recap: The Golden Knights traveled to Minnesota and for the second straight matchup against the Wild. Vegas scored the opening goal of the game after Keegan Kolesar tipped a puck into Minnesota’s net. The period ended with the visiting team leading 1-0.

The Wild’s offense woke up in the middle frame. Minnesota scored three times in the period to take a lead. Thankfully for Vegas, Pavel Dorofeyev rifled a puck in the net to keep the Golden Knights within one. After 40 minutes of action, the Wild held a 3-2 advantage.

With seconds remaining in the final period, Dorofeyev tied the game 3-3 and forced overtime and eventually a shootout. Reilly Smith came through with a slick move to win the game for Vegas.

The Golden Knights’ record improves to 48-22-7 defeating the Wild 4-3 in shootout. Vegas will continue on the road with a visit to Nashville on Tuesday. Puck drop against the Predators is scheduled for 5 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: VGK started out great doing much of what they did in Vegas last game to slow down and frustrate the Wild. But, the execution fell apart a bit from Vegas and picked up from Minnesota in the 2nd and they turned the game around. The equalizer really didn’t look like it would come but with under a minute the hero, Pavel Dorofeyev, emerged. He then re-emerged in shootout. What a game for #16.(Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 MINNESOTA WILD 1 (47-22-7, 101 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the Minnesota Wild hoping to snap their two-game losing skid. Minnesota jumped out to an early lead after a puck bounced off several players and into VGK’s net. Minutes later Ben Hutton scored in tight to even the score. Zach Whitecloud broke the tie to give Vegas a 2-1 advantage before the 1st intermission.

Vegas extended their lead 2:21 into the middle frame. Minnesota took 13 shots in the period but none of them were quality chances and couldn’t find the back of the net. After 40 minutes the home team led 3-1.

The 3rd period tightened up with neither team getting many dangerous chances on net. With 3:36 remaining the Wild pulled their goaltender for the extra attacker but it wouldn’t matter as Chandler Stephenson sealed the game with an ENG. Vegas took the first game of a home-and-home with Minnesota 4-1.

The Golden Knights’ record improves to 47-22-7 with their 4-1 win over the Wild. Vegas and Minnesota will play each other again on Monday night in Saint Paul. Puck drop is scheduled for 5 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights got back to their style of hockey, forechecking well, holding the puck in the O-Zone, and controlling the middle of the ice defensively. Despite going behind early, they were able to ride a wave of unlikely goal scorers to play one of their better games in a while. Do it again Monday and it’ll be quite the statement against another team near the top of the conference. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Minnesota Wild at T-Mobile Arena.

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Eichel Desperately Needed To Get Vegas Out Of Pre-Postseason Funk

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Most NHL defensemen are handed assignments on which opposing player they’ll need to shadow before each game. On a nightly basis, Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is tasked with defending stars, All-Stars, and even future Hall of Famers. On Thursday in San Jose, top defensive prospect Henry Thrun was given the challenge of covering Vegas’ superstar Jack Eichel.

His game transfers and it continued to transfer tonight. All of the things he was good at Harvard, he was good at here. He’s just got a real swagger to his game and he’s confident, and comfortable. He’s out there defending Jack Eichel and doing a good job. He got tested tonight, and he answered the bell. -David Quinn, SJ coach

On a nightly basis, Eichel can create problems for any team, especially a team with 42 fewer points than them. However, no matter how experienced or sought-after a defenseman is, VGK’s top center will need to be more of a factor. Against the Sharks, Eichel skated 21:40 minutes, had a secondary assist on the power play, was 33% from the dot, and was limited to one shot on net. A repeat performance on Thursday will not cut it against top pair d-men in the postseason. It’ll be even more of a problem without the security of captain Mark Stone for the early stages of the 2023 NHL playoffs.

Maybe Eichel and the Golden Knights were victims of their own success on Thursday night after finding out they were the first team to clinch a Western Conference playoff spot. It’s natural to relax and play down to the competition after reaching one of their season-long achievements. Tonight, against the red-hot Wild is not time for positive reflection.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 MINNESOTA WILD 1 (31-18-4, 66 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights looked to make it two in a row after the All-Star break with a trip to Minnesota. Nic Roy gave Vegas the first lead of the game with his 10th goal of the season.

Vegas’ offense exploded in the middle frame. The Golden Knights extended their lead by receiving goals from Alex Pietrangelo, Paul Cotter, Reilly Smith and Jack Eichel. Minnesota got one back but trailed 5-1 heading into the second intermission.

Things turned sour for the Golden Knights in the final period. Goaltender Logan Thompson injured himself stopping a shot and had to be replaced by backup Adin Hill. Vegas was able to hold off Minnesota from getting any closer and finished off the Wild 5-1.

The Golden Knights record improves to 31-18-4 defeating the Wild 5-1 in Minnesota. Vegas will finally head back home after a six-game road trip to face the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday afternoon. Puck drop against the Ducks is scheduled for Noon. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: The Golden Knights came out and smoked the Wild in every facet of this game. Minnesota coming off a back-to-back with travel and struggling to score goals and VGK made them look like it. The night was clearly marred by Logan Thomspon going down in the 3rd period. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center.

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Wild Facing Similar Struggles As Golden Knights Ahead Of Key Matchup

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

When the Golden Knights look across the ice at their opponents tonight in many ways it’ll be like looking into a mirror.

The Minnesota Wild have lost five of their last seven games and since their six-game win streak back in mid-December, they’re just 8-8-2. Their biggest issue will sound familiar too.

They can’t score, especially at even strength.

The Wild have managed more than three goals just once in the last 12 games and they have tallied five goals at 5-on-5 in the last seven games.

So, in a move that should sound familiar to VGK fans, Wild head coach Dean Evason attempted to balance out his forward lines.

Joel Eriksson Ek has been dropped down to the 3rd line while Ryan Hartman was reunited with Kirill Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello on the 1st.

Our defensive game is real good and we’ve got to stick with that. But we need to score some goals and we need to score some goals at 5-on-5. (The line shuffling) is order to find some secondary and some primary scoring. We just need to find some goals. -Dean Evason, MIN coach on Tuesday

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