The Preds got out to a good start, looking good in transition and playing a lively, energetic game. The momentum swung a few times in the first half of the first period, with each team getting a sequence on the attack before being pushed back to defense. After that, though, the ice tilted in the Knights’ favor. They got a few sustained and threatening shifts in the Preds’ zone, and Juuse Saros had to make some great saves.
With a little over four and a half minutes remaining in the period, Nick Cousins was called for slashing while deep in the Knights’ zone, trying to recover the puck from Shea Theodore. The Preds were able to stay afloat through the first 1:24 of the penalty, at which point Max Pacioretty was called for hooking and the play moved to 4v4. Neither forward made great decisions, there, but the 4v4 expired with no change in score and Robin Lehner stayed sharp for the Preds’ power play—both got away with it.
With less than a minute left in the period, Chandler Stephenson capitalized on a Mark Stone steal in the neutral zone and put the puck over Saros’s pad and into the net. It looked as if John Hynes might be considering a challenge, but ultimately he didn’t, and the period ended with the Preds trailing 0-1.
Filip Forsberg, in his first game back from IR, hit a post early in the second, but right after that Knights rookie Jonas Rondbjerg stole the puck from Roman Josi and scored, putting the Knights up by two. After that the Preds rallied a little, and then a Mark Stone penalty put them back on the power play, but the penalty expired with no change in score.
A little more than halfway through the second, Adam Brooks—courtesy of another sharp steal by Mattias Janmark—scored to put the Knights up 3-0. The Preds went on a desperate offensive flurry, but Robin Lehner continued to stand fast.
As the period started to wind down, the Preds got another power play, and this time Forsberg appeared to score just as the penalty expired. I hadn’t been expecting it—the Preds’ power play had looked about as off as the whole team has since the first few minutes—but the play was absolutely brilliant, a two-handed shoveling shot that bounced the puck off a Vegas skater and into the net. However, the goal was overturned due to goalie interference.
A very long delay had already ensued before the referees announced that the call on the ice was a good goal but that the Knights were challenging, and a further review then followed. It wasn’t apparent in the arena, but the press box quickly learned (and Willy Daunic and Chris Mason pointed out for viewers at home) that the initial delay was due to a clock issue, and that if it hadn’t been for the clock issue the Knights likely wouldn’t have been able to challenge.
Matt Benning then took a penalty.
The second period expired with 20 seconds remaining on the Knights’ power play, but the score still only 0-3 Preds. After intermission, the Preds killed the remaining 20 seconds of the penalty, and moments later Philip Tomasino drew a penalty of his own. Most of the best chances of that went to the Knights shorthanded, though.
With 14:40 remaining in the third period, Filip Forsberg scored for real on a breakaway, bringing the Preds back within two and ending Lehner’s shutout. Then the Preds got another power play, as Forsberg got tripped; unfortunately, the hope this built was dashed as Alex Pietrangelo scored shorthanded instead. The Preds once again trailed by three.
However, a puck-over-glass penalty put the Preds back on the power play, and this time Forsberg scored six seconds in. The score was now 4-2 Knights, and Bridgestone Arena and the Preds both seemed to wake up at that. With Saros pulled, a scramble in front of Lehner almost brought the Preds within one, but instead Mark Stone cleared the puck into the empty net.
Although the Preds played until the whistle, they weren’t able to manage the comeback. Knights win, 5-2.
OTF’s Three Stars of the Game:
3. Mark Borowiecki — got chewed up less than almost anyone else in xG share, and managed to stay out of the penalty box.
2. Mikael Granlund — good two-way play in another strong performance.
1. Filip Forsberg — who else?