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Golden Knights Fall 3-2 In Series Finale Showdown To Coyotes
(Photo by David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images)
Las Vegas–Tonight the Vegas Golden Knights hosted the Arizona Coyotes for the final time this season.
Fresh off of clinching their first ever Stanley Cup Playoff berth in franchise history the Golden Knights took to the ice that featured a tight scoring affair with the Coyotes.
For Vegas, Oscar Lindberg returned the action tonight after missing a month (14 total games) with an upper body injury.
The visiting Arizona Coyotes squad, they lost the previous four meetings to the Golden Knights this season so for them getting swept by Vegas at T-Mobile in front a crowd of 18,121 was not an option.
In the opening period of the contest, the Coyotes would strike first on the scoresheet at the 6:22 mark when an initial shot by defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson managed to get his shot thru traffic but an opportunistic Kevin Connauton on the doorstep converted via a backhander past Marc-André Fleury for a 1-0 Arizona lead.
This gave Connauton his 8th of the year with the Coyotes.
Later in the period, Vegas was the on the power play and they would find the equalizer goal when James Neal with great stick handling recovery fed the puck in the slot to Erik Haula who ended up one timing the shot past Antti Raanta for a 1-1 hockey game.
Haula earned his 29th goal of the season for the Golden Knights.
With less than 3 minutes to go in the first period the Coyotes would regain the lead once again as former Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik would connect for his 12th of the campaign.
On the scoring play, Clayton Keller dished out a backhand pass up ice to Panik and with a backhander of his own put the puck past the left pad of Fleury for a 2-1 score.
During the middle frame, the Golden Knights tied up the contest once more on another power play opportunity.
Stepping up for Vegas on the man advantage was Alex Tuch. Tuch redirected a long range shot by Jonathan Marchessault with a tip in goal past Raanta that brought the game even at 2-2 with 5:16 to go in the 2nd.
Less than the minute later however the Coyotes would take the lead for the final time of the contest when Connauton scored his 2nd goal of the game. Connauton’s long range wrister made it’s way past Fleury for the go ahead goal of the contest for a 3-2 score.
Connauton earned his 9th of year for Arizona.
At the end of the night, Connauton’s go ahead goal would be determined as the game winner.
For the Golden Knights, they fell short from sweeping the Coyotes in their 5 game season series with a 3-2 loss.
They would not gain any ground in the Pacific Division Title race on the Sharks as their record would be updated to 48-22-7 with a 5 point lead over San Jose.
Raanta bested out Fleury in net with his 27 saves performance on 29 shots at a .931 save percentage, while the 3-time Stanley Cup Champ turned away 29 of 32.
The Golden Knights went 2-5 on the power play tonight against the Coyotes, while Arizona came up empty on all of their 3 chances.
Head Coach Gerard Gallant pretty much summed up the 3-2 loss to Arizona with the following comment he told members of the local media at T-Mobile Arena.
“It’s the slow starts that’s what bother me, I want to be more consistent.” Gallant said.
3 Stars Of The Game
Arizona Coyotes: Antti Raanta (27 saves)
Arizona Coyotes: Kevin Connauton (2 goals)
Vegas Golden Knights: Co-3rd Star Erik Haula and Alex Tuch (1 goal each)