Two shots, two goals.
That’s how the Golden Knights kicked off a packed T-Mobile Arena on Friday for their annual Nevada Day matinee celebration. Center William Karlsson pumped his fist when he saw his deflection of teammate Shea Theodore’s wrister went in the back of the net.
The Knights seemed on their way to extending their perfect start to the season.
The Chicago Blackhawks had a different plan.
The Blackhawks battled back to tie the game before the first intermission and emerged with a 4-3 overtime victory in front of announced crowd of 18,338. The Knights, who entered Friday as the NHL’s last unbeaten team, dropped their first point of the season to fall to 7-0-1.
The defending Stanley Cup champions had no one to blame but themselves. They finished with 21 shots on goal, their fewest of the season, and went 0-for-4 on the power play in a tight game.
“I just thought we mismanaged pucks all night,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We did not execute at an NHL level for most of the night, and it ended up catching up to us.”
Cassidy’s frustration was evident because several of Chicago’s goals were preventable.
Center Ryan Donato got the Blackhawks on the board with 6:40 left in the first, then a turnover by right wing Jonathan Marchessault in the offensive zone allowed rookie center Connor Bedard to tie the game 1:19 later.
Another giveaway, one of the Knights’ season-high 14, gave Chicago the lead in the third.
Theodore whiffed on a pass, so right wing Taylor Raddysh picked up the puck and scored 1:11 into the period to put the Blackhawks up 3-2. Theodore did bounce back to tie the game with 8:32 remaining in regulation, but the Knights couldn’t break through from there despite getting several opportunities.
The team was given two power plays in the third period and managed just two shots. Theodore fired a wrister 62 feet from the net, and Marchessault tried his luck from 39 feet out.
Chicago didn’t have the same trouble converting when Bedard drew a tripping call from Karlsson 1:03 into overtime. Right wing Philipp Kurashev scored 1:47 later to snap a three-game losing streak for the Blackhawks (3-5-0). The Knights suffered their first loss, though they and the Boston Bruins are still the only two teams that have yet to lose in regulation this season.
“I thought we weren’t really making the plays we normally make,” left wing Brett Howden said. “I thought it was good for us to get a goal back and at least get a point out of it, but it’s not up to our standard.”
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
1. Bedard shines
It’s apparent through two games Bedard could be a problem for the Knights — and the rest of the NHL — for years to come.
The 2023 No. 1 overall pick scored in the first period for the second straight meeting between the two sides. Bedard, at 18 years and 102 days old, became the youngest player in league history to score in each of his first two games against the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“I think his shot (stands out), obviously,” Karlsson said. “You saw that on his goal. Great release. He’s got good awareness and hockey sense. I’m sure he’s going to be a great player for a long time.”
2. Karlsson’s line gives spark
The Knights built an early lead thanks to Karlsson’s line.
He clinched his 75th multipoint game with the team, second-most in franchise history, when he scored his goal 3:52 into the first period. Karlsson also picked up an assist on left wing Pavel Dorofeyev’s opening goal 1:35 into the game.
Dorofeyev, who turned 23 on Thursday, became the 17th player on the Knights to score a goal this season. No other NHL team has more than 14 goal scorers.
3. Pietrangelo returns
The Knights didn’t waste any time putting defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to work in his return.
The 33-year-old returned to the lineup Friday after missing five straight games and played a team-high 24:13. Pietrangelo, who was out after getting hit in the face with a puck Oct. 12 in San Jose, finished with two shots and had another great look in the second period that he missed.
Defenseman Brayden Pachal was a healthy scratch with Pietrangelo back in the lineup.