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Golden Knights no longer perfect

Vegas vows to use first loss as learning experience

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / NHL.com Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS - After the Vegas Golden Knights became the last of the 31 NHL teams to lose a game Friday, veteran forward David Perron reminded everyone to take a step back, take a deep breath and just exhale for a moment. 

The Golden Knights had given up four third-period goals to the visiting Detroit Red Wings in what ended as a 6-3 loss at T-Mobile Arena. But it didn't diminish the fact Vegas was the better team for the better part of two periods and pushed the pace against a fleet opponent. 

"We have a lot to improve upon," Perron said. "But overall, after four games, we have six points (3-1-0) and we have to look at the big picture and keep getting better every night."

 

[RELATED: Golden Knights lose first game when Red Wings rally in third]

 

The Golden Knights played their second home game, against the Red Wings, and for most of that time they didn't look like a traditional expansion team. Under coach Gerard Gallant, their game plan is to push the pace and make plays.

But the downside of playing an aggressive style is it sometimes results in mistakes, and the Golden Knights made far too many individual errors against the experienced Red Wings, led by forward Henrik Zetterberg, 37, who was opportunistic the entire game and had four points (one goal, three assists).

On the plus side, the Golden Knights knew they weren't going to go 82-0-0. But that first loss always leaves a bitter taste.

"We have a few lines that do have chemistry," Perron said. "That's definitely a big positive. The older guys in here want to fast-track the process of getting a good team, but we all know it's a process and we need some patience and tweak some things we don't do good enough.

"But the bigger thing, where we got results in the first three games, is we were doing the right things more often than not -- and we got away from that in the third period tonight."

Video: DET@VGK: Fleury denies Mantha's backhander

Said Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury: "We knew we weren't going to be undefeated till the end. But I think we showed we can play with good teams. The first two periods, we did great. We took the play to them. 

"There were a few games where maybe the third period maybe wasn't our best."

The third period was highly forgettable for the Golden Knights, mostly because of Zetterberg's remember-me night. 

Zetterberg delighted a crowd with plenty of Red Wings supporters. He didn't have a four-point game last season and, by comparison, had four points in October in 2016-17.

This season, he has seven points (three goals, four assists) in five games. Zetterberg recently told Detroit reporters he had never been to Las Vegas. 

His first trip won't be soon forgotten.

"We will remember these two points," Zetterberg said. "It was a great atmosphere, from the warmup throughout the game it was loud. It is a nice arena to play in."

The Red Wings, who won 4-2 at the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, looked like the much fresher team, able to take advantage in the final 20 minutes. Gallant called it an "awful" third period.

Video: DET@VGK: Glendening wires wrister past Fleury

"They dominated the third period," he said. "I can't say much more than that. The same thing happened [to us] the other night, but we had a 5-1 lead. We just didn't look like we had the jump in the third period.

"We gave them some goals. We forced some plays that didn't go our way and made some big mental mistakes that cost us goals."

The third-period collapse likely will serve as a significant teaching point for the expansion team. 

"We'll learn," Golden Knights forward James Neal said. "Like every team that loses, we'll look back on our game and see what we can do better." 

Neal's scoring touch stayed intact. He is the first player in the NHL expansion era to score in each of his team's first four games of its inaugural season, with six goals in that span.

"We knew what to expect," he said. "We thought we played a solid game for the first 40 minutes and we had a chance to win going into the third, which is the most frustrating part. We made some costly plays and it's in the back of our net."

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