Golden Knights lose to Ducks, face Stars in 1st round

The Golden Knights complete their regular season and are now looking ahead to a first round matchup with the top-seeded Stars.

LAS VEGAS — The Golden Knights stumbled to the season’s finish line Thursday night, falling to the Anaheim Ducks, 4-1, at T-Mobile Arena and setting up a first-round series with the Dallas Stars.

With the loss and the Kings’ overtime win over the Blackhawks, the Knights dropped from third place in the Pacific Division to the second wild-card spot in the playoffs. In turn, they will face the Stars instead of the Edmonton Oilers.

The best-of-seven series will start at 6:30 p.m. Monday in Dallas.

Thursday’s game was highlighted by Frank Vetrano’s hat trick, the sixth of his career and his fourth this season for the Ducks.

“We play every game to win, so always look at things and why we didn’t,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Early in the first period I thought we played the right way, in terms of how we’re going to generate offense down below the goal line. (We) did a really good job, just didn’t finish,” 

“Credit to their goaltender, he made some saves. Then second period, not quite as good. We got into a little more of a rush game. Then in the third, obviously we didn’t do what we needed to do to score.”

Marchessault scores again

Jonathan Marchessault entered Thursday’s game with 42 goals, one shy of the franchise’s single-season record set by William Karlsson in their inaugural year. Despite Marchessault’s best efforts, he was unable to score.

Cutter Gauthier, the fifth overall pick in the 2022 draft, made his debut for the Ducks less than a week after playing in the NCAA national championship game with Boston College. Gauthier assisted on a third-period Ducks goal for his first NHL point.

As Gauthier made was making his entrance, teammate Jakob Silfverburg played his last NHL game. Silfverburg wraps up a 15-year career that saw him earn an All-Star game nod in 2020.

After Frank Vatrano put the Knights down a goal early in the second period, Jack Eichel buried a one-timer on the powerplay to bring the Knights even at one just before the second intermission.

Vetrano scored twice in the third period — the last one on an empty-netter — and Jackson Lacombe added another.

Eichel’s goal was the lone bright spot for the Vegas on Fan Appreciation Night, besides for the fact that a fan won a truck during the first intermission.