Golden Knights continue freefall with 6-3 loss to Blue Jackets

Russell Labounty-USA TODAY
The Golden Knights still can't figure it out, and after a 6-3 loss in Columbus on Monday it's hard to see a reality where that happens.

There’s no sugar-coating it. There are problems in Vegas.

More specifically, those problems were in Columbus on Monday night as the Golden Knights lost yet again. This time it came to the bottom-feeding Blue Jackets, who won their second consecutive game for just the first time since November by trouncing the Knights 6-3. The team has now lost three games in a row and six of their last seven to fall to fourth in the Pacific Division playoff race and are now left in a fight for their playoff-contending lives as the regular season winds down.

“You’ve got to want it. We don’t want it right now. It’s very evident in our game,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “Our will right now to compete on pucks just isn’t good enough to win consistently in this league, and that’s exactly what we’re going through. We’re not winning consistently.”

After falling behind 2-0 in the early stages of the game, the signs were glaring that this was going to be another disastrous evening for the Knights. They caught a break, however, when Mason Morelli guided the puck past Blue Jackets’ goalie Daniil Tarasov for the goal that cut the score in half. Forty-two seconds later, William Karlsson put the puck in the net to knot the score at 2-2 and seemingly bail the Knights out from their disastrous start.

It wasn’t. Maybe it would have. At least you would expect that from a team that has held the Stanley Cup since June. But, like Bruce Cassidy said, you’ve got to want it in this league, and this team absolutely does not.

The Blue Jackets, of course, scored the next two before Chandler Stephenson brought the Knights back within a goal just past the midway point of the third period. That was the last challenge they’d make, as the Jackets put two more goals on their heads for good measure to settle the 6-3 final score.

“We seem to always be down in games, so we have to chase it. Then we battle back and we get the tie, and then they score the next one and we have to chase again,” Karlsson said. “I think we just have to simplify things sometimes. We don’t have to force plays to the neutral zone; I think that kind of came back to bite us a little bit. We’ve got to eliminate those.”

The game also marked Jack Eichel’s return to the team after missing nearly two months with his knee. They will need him to be every bit of the star he as capable of being if they want to even make the postseason at this rate.

The Golden Knights have finally ended their disaster of a road trip and are back at T-Mobile Arena for a date with the first-place Canucks at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. It’s about as crucial of a game as you could imagine at this juncture of the season.

“It’s a reset tomorrow. It’s a day off. Obviously, it was a long road trip and a pretty bad one for us. I think tomorrow we’ve got to wake up and see how we can get better as a team,” Jonathan Marchessault said.

“It’s on guys like us to bring our team to the next level, and we’re not doing that right now.”