Updated April 12, 2022 - 11:22 pm
There was a glimpse of the old Mark Stone in the second period, as he picked the pocket of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes to create a scoring opportunity for himself.
But those moments were few and far between for the Golden Knights’ captain after he was sidelined for more than two months with a back injury.
“Can’t say I felt very good,” Stone said. “I just tried to do what I could to try and help the team.”
The Knights needed two goals in the third period from defenseman Shea Theodore to rescue a point Tuesday night in Stone’s return, but they still stubbed their toe in the playoff race with a 5-4 overtime loss to the Canucks at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Hughes scored 51 seconds into overtime, as the Knights opened a crucial three-game trip through western Canada with their second loss to the Canucks in six days.
“I’m obviously proud of the way the guys battled back,” defenseman Alec Martinez said. “Getting points this time of year is big. But that said, we’re shooting for two, not one. There’s some things that we need to tighten up, some things we need to work on.”
The Knights trailed Vancouver 4-2 entering the third but pulled even thanks to Theodore, who continued his recent scoring surge.
He fired a one-timer from the top of the right faceoff circle past Canucks goalie Thatcher Demko with 41.4 seconds remaining to send the game into overtime. That came after his goal 5:27 into the third period cut Vancouver’s lead to 4-3.
Theodore matched his career high with 13 goals and has five in his past six games after not scoring the previous 27.
“Theo’s been starting to get hot at the right time,” Stone said.
The Knights activated Stone from long-term injured reserve, and he made his first appearance since Feb. 8. To make room for Stone and his $9.5 million salary cap hit, the Knights placed goaltender Laurent Brossoit and forwards William Carrier and Nolan Patrick on long-term injured reserve.
Tuesday marked the first time Stone, Jack Eichel and Max Pacioretty played in the same game for the Knights.
“I’m not sure anything came back quick in that one,” Stone said. “My lungs really weren’t there. … Hopefully I feel a little better for the next one.”
Stone’s best chance came in the second period when he stripped Hughes in the offensive zone and had a point-blank look that was turned away by Demko. The rebound also was stopped by Demko.
Martinez and Michael Amadio also scored for the Knights.
Goalie Robin Lehner made his fourth straight start and allowed goals on three of the first 11 shots he faced, including two goals in the opening 3:16 of the second period. But he had a key stop late on Conor Garland to keep it a one-goal game.
Vancouver was led by Elias Pettersson, who scored his 26th goal and added two assists. He set up Brad Richardson’s goal on a two-on-one rush that put the Canucks ahead 4-2 in the second period.
“We’ll take the point,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We’re going to have to be better than that down the stretch in order to get where we want to go.”
Here’s what stood out from the game:
1. Sentimental moment
Martinez admitted in an interview with AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain during the first intermission that his goal in the first period meant a little more after all he’s gone through this season.
“I might have raised my hands a little faster than I normally would have,” he said.
Martinez missed 53 games because of a facial laceration and head injury after he was kicked in the face by the skate of Minnesota’s Brandon Duhaime on Nov. 11.
He hadn’t scored since May 7 against St. Louis in the penultimate game of last season, but drove to the net and used his body to deflect Mattias Janmark’s shot past Demko and tie the score 1-1 at 16:59 of the first.
The goal helped the Knights overcome a slow start after they took two penalties in the first 1:28 and fell behind on Bo Horvat’s early power-play goal.
“I was happy for Marty to get on the board,” Stone said. “I think that will kick-start his season a little bit.”
2. Losing the battle
The Knights were the better team at five-on-five and finished with a 60-31 advantage in shot attempts, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. But they were let down by their special teams, which remains a weakness.
“You can’t lose the special teams battle 2-nothing and expect to win any game,” DeBoer said. “That’s probably the first place we’ve got to clean up.”
Vancouver went 2-for-3 on the power play, with Vasily Podkolzin banging in his own rebound in the second period for a 2-1 advantage after Horvat’s goal in the first.
“We’ve got to tighten up some things in that,” Martinez said. “Take away certain seams, do a better job battling in front.”
The Knights were 0-for-3 and failed to generate a shot on goal with their first two power-play opportunities. They couldn’t cash in on either chance in the third period.
Since going 3-for-5 against Nashville on March 24, the Knights haven’t scored in 18 straight power plays. They are 3-for-28 in their past 10 games.
3. Costly setback
Not much went the Knights’ way on the scoreboard, as Los Angeles won to increase its lead for third place in the Pacific Division, while Dallas and Nashville won in the wild-card chase.
The Knights are three points behind the Kings in the division with a game in hand.
Dallas leads the Knights by three points for the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference and has played one fewer game.
The Knights have eight games remaining and head to first-place Calgary on Thursday.
“It’s good to get a point. Obviously we would have liked to have left with two,” Stone said. “But we’ve got to forget about it, move on. We’ve got two big games coming up on this trip. We’ve got to find ways to win them.”