Knights get what they deserve in OT loss to Devils

Kim Montuoro-The Sporting Tribune
The Sporting Tribune's Steve Carp is on the road with the Golden Knights and writes too many mistakes cost Vegas in New Jersey.

NEWARK, N.J. — You could hear it in the tone of Bruce Cassidy’s voice along with his choice of words.

The Vegas Golden Knights coach wasn’t having none of this “Well, at least we got a point” stuff Monday night after his team squandered a two-goal second period lead and eventually fell in overtime 6-5 to the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center to start an important four-game road trip.

“Unhappy” doesn’t even begin to describe his demeanor afterward. 

“It’s going to be a tough one to digest,” Cassidy said. “When the players go over the boards, they make the decisions with the puck. We’ve talked about that enough. We’re at a point of the season where we should be playing better. We went out (Monday) and basically played a beer league game out there.

“We didn’t defend to our structure, our principles at all. The plays we made right up to the last goal were careless, disrespectful to the game. At the end of the day, we lose and that’s what we deserve.”

Tyler Toffoli’s goal 2:35 into OT gave him the hat trick and the Devils a much-needed two points. It offset another good outing from the top line for Vegas as Jonathan Marchessault had a pair of goals and an assist, Nic Roy a three-point evening (a goal and two assists) and Ivan Barbashev a helper as well.

Simply put, the Knights were too sloppy in their half of the ice and goaltender Logan Thompson, who had been so good the past week that he was named one of the NHL’s Three Stars for the Week earlier in he day, relapsed into an unsteady performance.

He may get a well-deserved chance to reboot both physically and mentally when the Knights travel to Long Island Tuesday to face the Islanders, who have been struggling themselves of late and fired heir coach Lane Lambert over the weekend, replacing him with Hall of Fame goalie Patrick Roy.

Cassidy said the plan is to activate Aidan Hill off Injured Reserve and start i=him at UBS Arena. Hill has not played since Dec. 17 against Ottawa when he was injured in the first period.

“We’ll see how (Hill) is doing when we get to the rink,” said Cassidy as the Knights will not skate Tuesday morning. “If he’s medically cleared to go, he’ll go.” 

Cassidy refuses to use injuries or fatigue as an excuse. The Knights have 10 players outing their 47 games played are tied for the most in the NHL.

Monday, it was about opportunities missed and ultimately failing to garner two points instead of the one they got. Lapses in judgement, even from veteran players, will get you beat and the Devils, who have had their own issues with injuries and being strong defensively, managed to stay in the game, chip away after squandering their own two-goal lead and eventually riding Toffoli’s hot hand for the win.

“Nobody feels good losing a game like that,” Barbashev said. “We just have to move on (to Tuesday).”

Last year, the Knights had a similar road trip to the New York metropolitan area right before the All-Star break and came away without a win, going 0-1-2. This one had a deja vu feeling to it as they were unable to cash in on some grade-A looks and make Vitek Vanecek look worse in the New Jersey goal than he already had in surrendering five goals. Mark Stone in particular had some of the best chances and he wound up with just a couple of assists on the night, setting up Pavel Dorofeyev in he first period for the Knights’ first goal and Chandler Stephenson’s second-period goal that put Vegas up 4-3.

“It’s unfortunate because it spoiled a good offensive effort from a couple of lines,” Cassidy said. “They worked hard, played the right way, got below the goal line and made plays. But at the end of the day, it was poor execution and poor attention to detail defensively.”

It’s why Cassidy’s team had to settle for one point instead of two. And on this critical trip at this critical point of the season, that’s simply not good enough.