|Inconsistent Knights host struggling Senators|
The Vegas Golden Knights hope to break a troubling pattern that has emerged early in the season when they host the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night in Las Vegas.
The 2018 Stanley Cup finalists opened the season with a pair of lopsided revenge victories over the San Jose Sharks, only to lose their next two games to the Boston Bruins and Arizona Coyotes. They followed that with impressive back-to-back wins over the Calgary Flames and Los Angeles Kings over the weekend.
The Golden Knights then dropped a sloppy 5-2 home decision to the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
Next up is an Ottawa team that hasn't played since losing 2-0 at home to the Minnesota Wild on Monday afternoon after garnering its only win of the season, 4-2 over Tampa Bay two days earlier.
A loss at home to the rebuilding Senators, who occupy last place in the Atlantic Division with just two points, and it might be time to hit the panic button for a Vegas team set on making another playoff run after blowing a 3-1 series lead to the Sharks in the first round of last year's Western Conference playoffs.
"In hockey the biggest adversity you face is consistency," Golden Knights center Jonathan Marchessault said after the loss to Nashville. "And it's hard to show up every night. Obviously, it is something as a hockey player you struggle with a little bit. So, it's on us to perform every night, and we weren't performing tonight."
Turnovers in their own end have been a glaring issue in several of the losses. The Predators took advantage and scored three goals in the span of less than seven minutes to start the second period en route to a 4-2 lead.
"I don't think we were playing bad but every mistake we made was a mental error and it ended up in the back of the net," said Vegas forward Reilly Smith. "It makes a big difference when they pot three goals and we give up a lead like that."
"We gave them three goals," coach Gerard Gallant said. "We made some mistakes tonight that are uncharacteristic for our hockey team."
Turnovers also were a problem for Ottawa in its loss to Minnesota, which came on the heels of a shocking win over the defending Presidents' Trophy-winning Lightning -- its only victory in five games this season.
"Special teams aside, we started to turn pucks over and we weren't mature enough to continue to put it in like they were and try and grind out a low-scoring game," said Ottawa coach D.J. Smith.
This is the first of a three-game road trip for the Senators that also includes stops at Arizona on Saturday and Dallas on Monday.
"They know the way they have to play," Smith said of his team.
"Vegas, arguably it's one of the most intimidating buildings (and) they've got a big, strong team, one of the best teams in the league. And then every team out there -- Arizona, Dallas -- these are all teams starving for victories and points in this league. We're going to have go out there and play the right way to come back here with some points."
Smith said he expects center Artem Anisimov, who was a late scratch for the Minnesota loss with an undisclosed injury, to be back for Thursday night's game.
--Field Level Media