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VGK misses opportunities versus Panthers

Hockey has always been known as a game of inches. One missed opportunity here and there could be the deciding factor in a lot of games.


The Vegas Golden Knights dropped their second straight game on this four-game road trip, 4-1, to the Florida Panthers Thursday, Jan. 27.


The game started fast for the Golden Knights who were able to score the game’s first goal off the stick of defenseman Zach Whitecloud nearly eight minutes into the first period.


It turned out to be the only time that the Vegas Golden Knights found the back of the net the rest of the night.


Florida seized momentum of the game when center Aleksander Barkov scored the game-tying, shorthanded goal with 29 seconds left in the first period to give the Panthers some life the rest of the game.


That momentum carried into the second period for Florida who took their first lead of the game when center Sam Bennett scored his 19th goal of the year 1:18 into the second period.


As the Knights have been known to do on a number of occasions this season, they did enough to keep themselves within reach.


The backbreaker for Vegas came in the last minute of the third period when Florida’s Mason Marchment and Bennett each scored empty net goals to secure the 4-1 win for the Panthers.


Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner finished the night with 28 saves on 30 shots attempts for a save percentage of .933 while Spencer Knight finished the game with 24 saves on 25 shot attempts for a final save percentage of .960 for Florida.


“I thought we did a good job of getting to their net and creating opportunities,” Whitecloud said. “I thought we had a lot of good looks and obviously those ones didn’t go in.”


Knights forward Reilly Smith echoed a lot of the same points from Whitecloud adding, “As a team, I think we played pretty fast.


“It was just a couple of mistakes that kind of cost us.”


Even in the loss, Vegas head coach Pete Deboer took some positives away from the game.


“I saw a lot of effort and a little bit of lack of execution at the end,” he said.


As mentioned previously, this marks the second loss in a row for Vegas who now hold a narrow one-point lead over the Anaheim Ducks for the top spot in the Pacific Division. Vegas is fifth in the Western Conference Standings.


Vegas will wrap up the road trip Saturday, Jan. 29 when it travels to Tampa Bay to play the Lightning.


Puck drop is set for 4 p.m. PST and can be seen on AT&T Sportsnet in Las Vegas.

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