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TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 3 (36-25-7, 79 PTS)

 

Recap: The Golden Knights hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning for an out-of-conference battle from The Fortress. Vegas jumped out in the lead immediately out of the gates. Jonathan Marchessault recorded his 38th goal of the season 1:14 into the game. Six minutes after the Lightning evened the score and added the go-ahead goal a few shifts later.

Vegas forward Brett Howden scored the only goal in the 2nd period to make it 2-2 going into the second intermission.

Tampa took a 3-2 lead to open the final frame but Ben Hutton found the equalizer moments later. Down the stretch, the Lightning regained their lead, added an empty net goal and held on to win 5-3.

The Golden Knights record drops to 36-25-7 losing 5-3 to the Lightning. Vegas’ next game is on Thursday night against Seattle Kraken. Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: This was one of VGK’s best forechecking games of the season. They were causing all sorts of problems in the Tampa end and it eventually led to a bundle of dangerous chances. They were able to get three but that wasn’t enough as Adin Hill put up what was likely his worst game of the year. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning at T-Mobile Arena.

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Golden Knights Remain In Decent Position Compared To Former Reigning And Eventual Champions

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Golden Knights have completed exactly half of their title-defending season. They started as hot as hot can be setting the new record for most wins in a row to begin a season for a reigning champion. Then, as injuries started to pile up, they hit the skids a little bit and have fallen to 10th in the league in points percentage.

It hasn’t been pretty for the last month or so, but Vegas still finds themselves in a solid position. At the midway post, the Golden Knights are still clearly in the playoff picture, sitting eight points north of the cut line.

After 41 games, the Golden Knights have a points percentage of .622. It’s the 4th best mark in their seven seasons, slightly below their franchise average of .659 at this point in the year. .622 equates to 102 points at the end of the season, which would be good enough to make the playoffs every single year since the current format has been adopted. And, .622 is the exact average points percentage at the halfway point of the season for the last six Stanley Cup runners-up.

Golden KnightsDefending ChampEventual ChampEventual Runner-Up
22-23 (COL/VGK/FLA).683.549.683.488
21-22 (TBL/COL/TBL).610.720.768.720
20-21 (TBL/TBL/MTL).707.707.707.573
19-20 (STL/TBL/DAL).561.707.643.610
18-19 (WSH/STL/BOS).585.659.463.610
17-18 (PIT/WSH/VGK).732.524.646.732
AVERAGE.659.644.652.622

VGK’s current points percentage has them behind all but one of the last six eventual champions at this point in the season. They are also now well behind where they sat a year ago. In 2022-23 the Golden Knights amassed 57 points through 41 games, six points better than they are right now.

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TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 (21-8-5, 47 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights continued on their East Coast road trip to Tampa for a faceoff against the Lightning. The game took some time to settle in until Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring with his 16th goal of the season. Ivan Barbashev doubled Vegas’ lead five minutes later with his 9th goal of 2023-24.

Trailing 2-0, the home team’s offense began to generate in the middle frame. Beginning at the 8:25 mark of the period, Tampa rattled off four straight goals taking a 4-2 advantage into the second intermission.

Vegas came out firing in the final period and tied the game 4-4. Marchessault scored on the power play and then Paul Cotter tied the game. With time winding down the home team scored to win in regulation, leaving the Golden Knights empty-handed.

The Golden Knights record drops to 21-8-5 losing to the Lightning 5-4. Next up Vegas will travel across the state for a Stanley Cup rematch with the Florida Panthers. Puck drop for Saturday’s game is set for Noon. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: When these two teams hook up we are used to getting pretty crazy games. This one was no different as both teams held multi-goal advantages that were erased. VGK’s penalty kill couldn’t bail them out in the 2nd and they allowed a few too many dangerous looks, especially off the rush. Tough loss but a super exciting game. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.

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Golden Knights Need To Keep “Emotional Needle” High

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

27 seconds into the game last night the Golden Knights got onto the board with a 2-on-1 goal from Keegan Kolesar on a nifty feed from Teddy Blueger. It was the perfect start for Vegas in what was bound to be a difficult road game in Tampa.

For the next 39 minutes and 33 seconds, the Golden Knights were not as potent. They collected just eight shots following the goal for a franchise-low nine shots through two periods. They struggled to generate anything off the rush, they couldn’t set up in the offensive zone for extended stretches, and the forecheck was non-existent.

Then, the game started to change. Not necessarily in how the Golden Knights were playing, but more so in the physicality and temperature of the affair. A hit from behind on Jack Eichel woke the Golden Knights up, an after-the-horn scrum continued to turn up the heat on the game, and when the 3rd period came, Vegas appeared much more engaged and ready to fight back.

At the end of the day I think we found our emotional needle. That little scrum may have dragged us into it even if we lost key players. A couple of those shifts really got us engaged. I’ve always been okay with that for our group. I feel like when we get dragged into it, if we are not dragging ourselves into it, we usually come out ok. And we did again tonight. -Cassidy

This is something Cassidy has spoken about in the past. He believes when the team plays with an added level of emotion that they take their game to a higher level.

Emotion is not easily measured and obviously it’s not ideal for the Golden Knights to be assessed with 75 minutes of penalty time as they did last night. But, in the 11 games in which VGK have taken a major penalty or a misconduct, they’ve posted a record of 7-3-1 and they’ve won five of their top seven most penalized games.

We were just fired up with the boys standing up for each other. -Karlsson

It’s a tricky concept as the hope would be that the emotion is there every night. For Vegas, it just hasn’t, yet that’s not abnormal for any team in a league with 82 regular season games.

The question becomes how they can make sure to keep that level high moving forward and especially into the postseason when the games really count.

They can’t rely on someone taking a cheap shot or a scrum that leads to 10 players being ejected from the game to help “drag them into the game.” It must come ealier, and more often, if it truly is going to have the impact on the games Cassidy and many of the players believe it does.

For one night, the emotional needle rose to the level it needed to for the Golden Knights to beat one of the best teams in the NHL. Moving forward, they need to make sure it stays there as often as possible.

VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 4 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3 (39-20-6, 84 PTS)

Recap: The Golden Knights were looking for a Sunshine state split with an evening matchup against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Immediately off the opening face-off, Teddy Blueger set up Keegan Kolesar for an easy tap-in 0:27 into the game. Three minutes later the home team jumped on a rebound and evened the score. The game was locked 1-1 after the opening twenty minutes.

Things tightened up in the second period with only 13 combined shots. Tampa was rewarded with multiple power plays, but Vegas’ penalty killers did their job and kept the Lightning off the board. The game remained tied 1-1 heading into the second intermission.

Vegas turned up their game in the final period, taking the lead on the penalty kill and extending it on the power play. First William Karlsson scored shorthanded, and Chandler Stephenson followed it up with a goal on a man-advantage situation. The final ten minutes were marred with ten ejections after several scrums broke out. Tampa pulled their goalie with 2:30 left and forced overtime. Alec Martinez scored the game-winner late in OT, pulling off a wild 4-3 victory. 

The Golden Knights record improves to (39-20-6) defeating the Lightning 4-3 in Tampa. Vegas continues their road trip with a trip to Carolina for a matchup with the Hurricanes on Saturday. Puck drop is scheduled for 4P PT. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: In one of the wackiest games in VGK history, the Golden Knights end up coming out on top. They struggled to generate much of anything offensively through the first two periods mustering up a franchise low nine shots through 40 minutes. But as the temperature of the game turned up, the Golden Knights struck both shorthanded on and the power play to grab a lead. They then blew that lead and had to rescue it in OT. It’s one of the weirdest games I’ve ever watched. (Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena.

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VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 5 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 4 (34-18-4, 72 PTS)

Recap:  The Golden Knights hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning trying to extend their winning streak to five games. The Lighting got on the board first but seven seconds later Brett Howden evened the score. Tampa took a 2-1 lead minutes later on the power play but again Vegas and Jonathan Marchessault answered right back. The Golden Knights offense continued to pressure the Lightning and rattled off three straight goals. After the opening 20 minutes Vegas held a 4-2 advantage over Tampa.

Tampa got closer in the middle frame, but Vegas tightly held on to their lead. After 40 minutes of action, the Golden Knights lead 4-3.

Up by one the Golden Knights kept pushing the Lightning in the final period limiting the visiting team to only a handful of shots. Nic Roy iced the game with an empty-net goal with minutes remaining in the game. Tampa got one back but wouldn’t get any closer.

The Golden Knights’ record improves to 34-18-4 defeating the Lightning 5-4. Vegas will look to continue their five-game winning streak on Tuesday in Chicago. Puck drop against the Blackhawks is set for 5:30 PM. (Recap by Jason)

Analysis: It was a frantic start to the game with VGK falling behind twice in the 1st, but they answered quickly and furiously to not only stay in the game but take a two goal lead into the break. The 2nd was a bit of a scary one as the Golden Knights tried to just hang on and nearly gave up the lead. The 3rd was a masterclass in shutting down a good team’s attack. VGK kept everything to the outside and had excellent sticks when passes were attempted through the middle. Fantastic win against a terrific opponent.(Analysis by Ken)

Upcoming stories from the Vegas Golden Knights vs. Tampa Bay Lightning at T-Mobile Arena.

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Jon Cooper Says “Mediocre Or Worse” Power Play Can Still Win In Playoffs

(Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

If there’s anyone who knows what it takes to win in the postseason, it’s Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper.

His team had had their names engraved on the Cup in back-to-back seasons and despite the 0-2 hole to the Rangers they still have as good a chance as anyone to win it again this year.

During the ESPN broadcast of Eastern Conference Finals Game 2, play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough shared an interesting comment from the Lightning bench boss on the importance of the power play in the postseason.

It’s interesting what Jon Cooper said about the adage that you have to have your power play in the playoffs. He said “Not really. You have to have your penalty killing. Where you have to have your power play is when you are behind. You can be mediocre or worse on the power play but you can’t be bad killing penalties and last long in the playoffs.” –McDonough on ESPN during Game 2

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