The chance to finish a lengthy homestand on a high note soured right away.
The Detroit Red Wings again showed their willingness to keep fighting Saturday, capping a five-game stretch at Little Caesars Arena by hosting the Vegas Golden Knights. But the Wings chased their elite opponent from the opening minute and weren't able to finish chances, resulting in a 4-1 loss that left them on a three-game skid.
"They scored at costly times," captain Dylan Larkin said. "First shift. We just finished a power play and they get a breakaway. We did a great job defending, it's just, they got timely goals and it kind of killed us. We just couldn’t manage to find one and we had plenty of looks in the o-zone. We did a great job swarming it. It’s just another one of those games where we’re really close but it’s not enough to get a result."
Oskar Sundqvist scored to pull the Wings within a goal in the second period, but five minutes later, veteran Phil Kessel's breakaway put the Wings in another two-goal hole. They got a power play with 8:36 to play but Dylan Larkin was denied on two backhand attempts. Ville Husso was pulled with 3:25 to go for an extra attacker but the Knights turned that gamble into another goal, from Reilly Smith.
"Our game has to look a lot more like the start of our third and our push at 2-1," coach Derek Lalonde said. "Definitely a frustrating game in that there were a couple plays that defined the game — them scoring a minute in, and we come out of the first period and we’ve played pretty well and we’re down, 1-0. We get to 2-1, we had a great push, we earned a power play, and they score coming out of the box and it’s 3-1."
The Wings rallied to squeeze a point out of their previous game, against Buffalo, but the Vegas game left them 2-2-1 in their longest home stand of the season.
"I think you saw against Buffalo, the puck went in and we came back, fell short in a shootout," Larkin said. "We were close tonight, but you can’t be close a lot, we have to find ways to get two points out of nights like this."
The Wings (11-7-5) begin a four-game road trip Sunday at Columbus, and next play at LCA on Dec. 13 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
First to finish
It wasn't a great start for a team and goaltender looking to rebound: A minute after the game began, Jack Eichel was by himself to the left of Detroit's net, free to tap in a pass from Chandler Stephenson to put the Golden Knights up, 1-0. The Wings countered with several good shifts, but Joe Veleno, Adam Erne and Pius Suter weren't able to finish on their chances. Husso, who had a rough outing Monday against Toronto, responded with several sharp saves as the Wings let the Knights have their way a bit too much around Detroit's net.
"He looked good, he looked like confident Ville," Lalonde said.
Defenseman Jordan Oesterle was called for tripping at 7:16 of the second period. Larkin won the draw against Eichel, and Larkin and Oskar Sundqvist were able to force the puck into Vegas' zone, eating a few seconds off the penalty kill. But the play came the other way and Mark Stone and Jonathan Marchessault paired up to convert, with Marchessault firing a shot from the right circle that went bar down and put the Wings in a 2-0 hole.
The Wings got a power play at 10:41, three minutes after Marchessault's goal, when David Perron drew a hooking call on Zach Whitecloud. Larkin got the puck to Dominik Kubalik, who sent it towards the crease where Sundqvist hovered. Adin Hill stopped Sundqvist's first attempt, but Sundqvist didn't budge and was rewarded on his second attempt. It was Sundqvist's third goal in the past two games.
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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Detroit Red Wings left chasing Vegas Golden Knights in 4-1 loss