The Vegas Golden Knights’ playoff hopes came to an end on Wednesday night as they fell to the Chicago Blackhawks by a 4-3 shootout final and are officially eliminated from playoff contention.
This game was eerily similar to the Golden Knights’ loss on Tuesday to the Dallas Stars, whom they also fell to in a shootout. Against the Stars, they were unable to score a goal in seven rounds of the shootout, and the exact same situation occurred on Wednesday, as they were unable to put any of their seven attempts past Kevin Lankinen.
In order to have still stayed alive in the playoff race, the Golden Knights not only needed to secure two points against the Blackhawks, but were also needing the Stars to lose in regulation to the Arizona Coyotes. That didn’t seem likely as the Stars held a 3-0 lead over the Coyotes heading into the third period. However, they battled back to tie things up at three apiece in the third. Though they did go on to win the game, it came in overtime, which in itself gave the Stars the single point they needed to qualify for the postseason.
“We know we have what it takes in this room to win,” said a dejected Max Pacioretty postgame. “There’s still no excuse for the position we’re in right now.”
Wednesday night’s outcome was a fitting ending to what has been a very odd and disappointing season for the Golden Knights. They struggled to find consistency all year long, and were also extremely injury plagued. The injuries shouldn’t be used as an excuse, however, as this team is filled with star talent. Heading into the 2021-22 campaign, they were not only heavy favorites to win the Pacific Division, but were picked by many to hoist the Stanley Cup this spring.
With their elimination, there is going to be plenty of chatter as to where the Golden Knights go from here. Given the talent on their roster, they should be able to bounce back next season, though whether or not general manager Kelly McCrimmon as well as head coach Pete DeBoer will be around remains to be seen.
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