Golden Knights fall to Canucks as Hertl debuts

The Golden Knights their second straight game on Monday night, falling to the Canucks 4-3 after taking an early 2-0 lead.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Golden Knights again blew an early lead for their second consecutive loss, falling to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-3, at Rogers Arena, spoiling Tomas Hertl’s debut in a Vegas uniform.

“I thought it was a pretty even game,” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “At the end of the day, they got rewarded for getting into interior ice around the front of our net, obviously. They did a good job screening the goalie and finding rebounds around there. For us, it’s (about) controlling those rebounds or boxing out.”

Hert, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks last month at the trade deadline, got an assist made his debut for the Golden Knights, even recording an assist in the loss.

His addition wasn’t much of a help as he was on the ice for two of the Canucks’ four goals. Still, the Knights expect him to be a key piece of their core both as they’ve committed themselves to his lengthy contract (he is in the second year of an eight-year, $65.1 million deal he signed with the Sharks in 2022). 

It was costly loss for Knights, causing another setback in their quest to take one of the Pacific Division’s three automatic playoff berths. They are sitting one point behind the Los Angeles Kings for the final Pacific berth and five points ahead of the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference’s final wild-card spot.

In this spot, the Knights are eyeing a first-round meeting with either the Colorado Avalanche or the Canucks.

The Knights were powered by a vintage Jack Eichel performance in Monday’s loss. He had a three-point outing, scoring the Knights’ two first-period goals and found Noah Hanifin on the assist for their third goal in the second period. 

Conor Garland scored two goals for the Canucks, including the game-winner with less then 90 seconds to play. Quinn Hughes added a goal and an assist while Brock Boeser tied the game at 3-3 five minutes earlier, his 40th goal of the season. 

It’s was a stark turnaround from the Knights’ 6-3 victory over the Canucks last week. The Knights bolted to a 5-1 lead that extended their point streak to seven games, squelching the narrative that they might limp into the playoffs.

A week later, the Canucks stole momentum from the Knights by erasing Vegas’ third-period lead. It was a reminder just how fleeting the positives of this Knights season has been. 

The loss also proved that the Canucks can be added to the list of teams the Knights don’t really want to see in the postseason. A list that has gotten to be longer than the teams they’d feel comfortable against. 

If the Knights were to keep the Stanley Cup in Vegas this summer, it would be a more impressive feat than last season’s smooth ride through the postseason.