Last night the Colorado Avalanche and the Vegas Golden Knights faced off in Las Vegas. It was the first game in a Knights uniform for 25 year old superstar Jack Eichel and it did not go according to plan. The Knights were shut out by a faster, more dominant Colorado team.
After suffering only their second regulation loss since December sixth on Tuesday night, the Avalanche bounced back and took their 23rd win since that same date. They have the best record in the NHL in that span.
Darcy Kuemper played excellently in net for the Avalanche making 29 saves and made big stops early on the penalty kill and on the powerplay, when the Knights had a shorthanded breakaway. Vegas had nine shots on goal to Colorado’s three in the first 11 minutes.
However, shortly after that the Avalanche would start pressuring, getting lots of shots on net from extended time in the offensive zone. The scoring wouldn’t start until 41 seconds into the third period, when Gabriel Landeskog beat Vegas goaltender Laurent Brossoit over his left shoulder. He received the puck on a brilliant play by defenseman Cale Makar.
Trouble in Vegas
The Golden Knights have been a force in the league since they were founded in 2017, but they’ve lost four of seven and have lost two in a row now, being outscored 8-0 in those two games. It’s certainly not time to hit the panic alarm, but the Knights do need to snap out of it quickly.
Vegas was hoping to add some more scoring and skill to their team with former Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel. The Knights traded for Eichel in a deal that included Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, and multiple draft picks.
Although the trade took place in early November, Eichel has not played for Vegas yet due to a neck injury and a disc replacement surgery in his back. Last night was Eichel’s first game since March 7th, 2021.
Good to see you back, Jack
As a hockey fan you have to be happy to see Eichel back on the ice and healthy. Neck and back injuries are some of the scariest in all of sports, and a long recovery can often mean potential issues in rehab.
However it appears that was not the case for the new Golden Knight. Eichel played 23 shifts, amassing more than 17 minutes of ice time. He registered one shot on goal while winning 42 percent of his faceoffs for the night. He also took two minor penalties. Not the best stat line but it certainly shows he’s capable of being back out there.
The fans in Vegas were very excited for the 25 year old’s debut, and he said he felt the energy in the building. Eichel even was greeted by a standing ovation of the crowd to celebrate him taking the opening faceoff of the game. Hopefully this will be a good fit for the team and Eichel.
The Avalanche took it to the Knights in the third period, just as they did in their last win against the Dallas Stars. Colorado now has four third-period goals in their last two victories. Darcy Kuemper continued to play a beautiful game in the third, making big saves throughout the period.
Gabriel Landeskog scored a beautiful goal early in the third, and Mikko Rantanaan scored a beautiful powerplay goal with 4:15 remaining in the game. He received an excellent cross ice pass from Nathan Mckinnon and buried it just below the crossbar as Brossoit dove across the net.
Kuemper finishes with his second straight shutout, making him tied for fourth in the league for total shutouts. He also improves his win mark to 24, tying him for fourth in that category as well. The Avalanche closed at -140 moneyline (at Caesars).