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Looking ahead for the Golden Knights: Big piece needed on D

David Becker/NHLI via Getty Images

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, along with three keys to its offseason, impact prospects for 2019-20 and a way-too-early prediction for what next season will hold.


What went wrong

For all the incredible milestones the Vegas Golden Knights reached in their inaugural season, there's one they missed out on: playing in, and winning, a Game 7. They've played in one now, having gone the limit with the San Jose Sharks. They still haven't won one.

But if the question is "what went wrong," then the answer is "it went seven games." The Knights had a chance to knock out the Sharks in Game 5 after turning goalie Martin Jones into a slice of Swiss cheese in three straight wins. They lost. They had a chance to eliminate the Sharks in Game 6 in front of a raucous crowd in Vegas. They poured 58 shots on Jones in that game, and lost on a double-overtime shorthanded goal. Then in Game 7, they were up 3-0 early in the third period, only to wind up on the losing end in overtime. The Knights had the Sharks on the mat and allowed them to get a boot on the bottom rope to break the pin.

To the Knights' credit, they played through adversity this season, from losing top defenseman Nate Schmidt for a quarter of the season to suspension to injuries impacting much of the roster. Their 93-point season defied some predictions of a sophomore slump. But after bringing in high-profile veterans like Max Pacioretty, Paul Stastny and Mark Stone -- and inking them to multiyear deals -- a one-and-done postseason probably isn't going to sit well with owner Bill Foley.