The hopes of the Golden Knights are damaged by losing to lowly demons

Center Jack Eichel, right winger Mark Stone, left winger Jonathan Marchesault and Max Passurete drifted across the ice bending with their sticks on their knees when he finished.

Stone hit his wand against the boards as he reached the seat to leave. This is how things ended for the Golden Knights on Monday night against the New Jersey Devils. In frustration and defeat.

Left winger Andreas Johnson scored a 3:14 tiebreaker in the third inning, and the Devils won 3-2 in front of an audience of 18,077 at T-Mobile Arena to deal a decisive blow to the Knights’ playoff hopes.

One team entered with everything to play for. The other, nothing but pride.

It turns out that pride was enough.

“At the end of the day, nobody is going to make us play in the playoffs,” Marquesault said. “We have to earn it, and we certainly don’t.”

There are images from Monday that will likely be burned into the riders’ brains if they are no longer playing hockey at the end of the month.

Their 23 missed shots. The stunned building is in the third period. The body of quarterback Jesper Bokvist slashed his way into the net to score the game-winning goal that delighted every Los Angeles, Dallas and Nashville fan.

It wasn’t supposed to go this way in favor of the Knights. They were at home facing the team that entered Monday with the fifth lowest points in the National Hockey League. The contender’s goalkeeper was 34-year-old Andrew Hammond, who scored 3.98 on average and 874 saves.

However, it was New Jersey that led 1-0 6:54 in the first half when right winger Nathan Bastian rebounded into the net. The Knights gave themselves several great opportunities to tie the match, but they kept shooting far from or over Hammond.

Right winger Keegan Kolisar seemed to correct the ship’s lane with 2:23 remaining in the second half when a pass from BK Suban defender went into the net to tie the match at 1.

But the Knights never built on it. Johnson gave the Devils the lead again before Bucqvist delivered the final blow. The quarterback veered around defender Alex Petrangelo and scored with quarterback Chandler Stevenson on his back 7:57 in the third inning.

The Devils did not hit any other shot on goal. Did not matter. Stephenson scored after the Knights pulled off goalkeeper Robin Lehner, but they were unable to equalize.

The club couldn’t take care of business in one of its last three home games. Now, dreams of the final are hanging by a thread.

“This is very disappointing,” said defender Alec Martinez. “But we can’t give up.”

Here are three takeaways from loss:

1. Ranking mode

The loss leaves the Knights with almost no margin for error in their last five matches. Or nothing at all, according to trainer Pete Deborah.

“I think we should win them all,” Debore said. “This is very simple.”

The Knights are three points behind Los Angeles for third and final place in the playoffs in the Pacific Division. They trail Dallas and Nashville by four points in a wild card chase, and both teams have a game in hand. Nashville also holds the list that won the tiebreak over the Musketeers 35-33.

There is also pressure from the back in the arrangement. Vancouver won on Monday the sixth in a row to fall a point behind the Knights with a game in hand. The Canucks can move on on Tuesday with a win over Ottawa.

2. The goalkeeper’s decision

DeBoer chose to start Lehner after rookie player Logan Thompson scored in the previous two games.

Lehner, who left the team’s trip early Friday due to a family member’s health condition, allowed three goals from 28 shots. He has fallen to 2-2-1 with a saving of 0.889 since returning from a lower-body injury on April 3.

Hammond saved 42 balls to achieve his fourth victory.

“I think this time of year you are looking for your man to be better than the man at the other end,” DeBoer said. “That was not the case tonight.”

3. Missed opportunities

The Knights could still test Hammond more in spite of all his saves.

Midfielder Nicholas Roy hit the ball in a break in the first half and hit the post on another in the second half. Kolesar couldn’t get a shot at a partial breakup at first. Right winger Michael Amadeo missed a golden opportunity in the second minute. There were others, even late in the game.

The Knights finished 44 shots on target, but the New Jersey’s 23 defeats and 24 blocks hampered their attack.

“The good chances we get, we don’t take it,” Marquesault said. “That’s why we lost matches.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow Tweet embed on Twitter.

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