Golden Knights enter road comfort zone vs. Blue Jackets

Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

After losing back-to-back games at home against the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks over the weekend, the Vegas Golden Knights hit the road for four games starting with a contest Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Vegas has thrived on the road this season, going 9-1-1 including a sweep of a five-game eastern road trip in early November. The Golden Knights have won seven of their last eight road games with the only loss in overtime, 4-3 at Edmonton on Nov. 19.

“I think sometimes when you go on the road you simplify your game,” Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said. “It’s something we’ve had a conversation about. We’ve got to use these next four games and really grab this thing together as a group and move forward.”

The Golden Knights looked lethargic at times in Friday’s 4-2 loss to the Kraken, then fell behind 5-0 after two periods of an eventual 5-1 loss to the Canucks on Saturday night. Vancouver went 3-for-3 on the power-play while building an early 3-0 lead.

“When you’re not able to get back any momentum on the penalty kill, it’s tough,” forward Reilly Smith said. “We just kept digging ourselves a bigger hole as the game went on.”

Said Pietrangelo: “Obviously the penalty kill wasn’t where we wanted it to be. It seems like every game right now it’s something. A little bit of adversity but that’s OK. We had a lot of success earlier in the year. Use this as a wakeup call.”

Vegas still leads the Western Conference with 33 points and 16 wins.

“The big picture is we had a helluva run here early on, banked some points, and I don’t think we stole any games along the way,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “I think it’s been a really taxing schedule, and maybe it caught up to us this weekend a little bit.”

Columbus, which is last in the Metropolitan Division, enters well rested. The Blue Jackets last played Friday at home when they dropped a 3-2 decision to the New York Islanders. Their game Saturday at Nashville was postponed due to a water main break at Bridgestone Arena.

The Islanders’ Brock Nelson scored a 4-on-4 goal at the 6:10 mark of the third period to break a 2-2 tie. The Blue Jackets rallied from a 2-0 deficit on second-period power-play goals by Yegor Chinakhov and Kent Johnson.

“We played well,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “There’s not much to criticize. Mistake there on the 4-on-4 goal that cost us, but the effort was there. We had our looks. It was a pretty solid game again.”

Johnny Gaudreau, who leads the Blue Jackets with 20 points (seven goals, 13 assists), missed practice on Sunday with an illness. His status will be reassessed on Monday as to whether he will play against Vegas.

“We’re not shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers,” said Gaudreau, who assisted on both Blue Jackets goals against the Islanders. “That was a big problem for us in the first 12, 14 games of the season.

“We’re learning from our mistakes and we’re doing a better job at that for sure. We don’t want to let it leak back into our game again because it’s a dangerous game to play when you start turning pucks over.”

–Field Level Media

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