Vegas Golden Knights vs. Los Angeles Kings Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 28th 2023

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The reigning Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights will attempt to snap a four-game losing streak on Thursday night when they face the Los Angeles Kings in Las Vegas.

The Golden Knights, who opened the season with an impressive 12-game point streak (11-0-1), have lost five of their last six games, all in regulation. Vegas has dropped four consecutive games in regulation for the first time since March 2022.

Defensive struggles are a big reason for the current slump. The Golden Knights allowed 25 goals in their five recent losses, and they gave up four goals over a nine-minute stretch in the first period of an eventual 5-2 road loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday.

“I just think we were not ready to play, myself included,” Vegas defenseman Alec Martinez said. “Too many breakdowns. Not good enough gaps. We just gave them too many offensive opportunities, but credit to them, they buried them.”

Martinez and Mark Stone scored second-period goals to cut Anaheim’s lead to 4-2, but Brett Leason scored his second goal of the game near the end of the frame to silence the comeback.

“We’ve got to figure this out as a team,” Martinez said. “You look at the last four, five, six games giving up four-plus goals. That’s not what we do. It’s lack of attention to detail. We’re not playing a team game. I think we’ve been disconnected. I think we’ve got to play more together as five and support each other all over the ice.”

Logan Thompson, an All-Star in 2022-23, gave up five goals on just 26 shots at Anaheim, including a couple of soft goals. Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy pointed the finger at his goalies to play better.

“We need them to get back to their form, and we need to play cleaner in front of them,” Cassidy said. “I don’t want this to turn into a (dump)-all-over-the-goalies postgame, but we do need to fix that part of our game and we need to fix our play in front of them. … You need saves. That’s where we’re at right now.”

The Kings, who are an NHL-best 13-1-1 on the road, come in off a 5-1 win over the visiting San Jose Sharks on Wednesday. Los Angeles trails second-place Vegas by just three points in the Pacific Division and has five games in hand.

The Kings started slowly against the Sharks, trailing 1-0 after the first period on a breakaway goal by Fabian Zetterlund off a turnover by Kevin Fiala near his own blue line. But Los Angeles rebounded to take a 3-1 lead in the second with Fiala and Trevor Lewis scoring 13 seconds apart and Pierre-Luc Dubois adding a late-period tally. Adrian Kempe netted two goals in the third period to seal it.

“I thought it was a real good response, but we shouldn’t be put in that situation where we have to do that,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said when asked about scoring five unanswered goals after a lackluster first period. “It was the exact opposite of what we didn’t see in the first. I thought we were faster. I thought we were harder. We let the forecheck do some work instead of being pretty going into the zone, and everybody got involved. More of a north-south game, a heavier game.”

Kempe believes the Kings need to carry that momentum into the Thursday contest.

“We’re going to start where we left off (Wednesday),” Kempe said. “Obviously, it’s going to be a tough game against a good opponent that we haven’t played in a while. Two good teams going at it. It’s going to be fun.”

–Field Level Media

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