The Vegas Golden Knights haven't looked like themselves lately.
The defending Stanley Cup champions have lost two straight and four of their past five games and now head out for a five-game road trip against Eastern Conference foes trying to regain their form, beginning with a visit to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday.
Vegas' most recent setback came Thursday, a 7-3 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Golden Knights trailed 4-0 after the first period and were down 6-1 after two.
Vegas is 5-5-0 in its past 10 games.
"We're losing our identity a little bit," coach Bruce Cassidy said.
While still second in the Pacific Division, the Golden Knights entered Friday just two points ahead of the third-place Edmonton Oilers, who play Friday night -- one of four games they hold in hand on Vegas. The Golden Knights are four points up on the Los Angeles Kings, who are in the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference and have two games in hand on Vegas.
The loss to Toronto was the Golden Knights' fourth consecutive defeat at home, a stretch in which they've been outscored 20-10.
"We're getting easier and easier to play against," Cassidy said.
A lengthy injury list hasn't helped, with captain Mark Stone the latest addition (before the game against Toronto), out week-to-week with an upper-body injury. The Golden Knights are also without top center Jack Eichel and depth forwards William Carrier, Pavel Dorofeyev and Brett Howden.
"Obviously, the healthier we are, it helps," center Nicolas Roy said. "We have a lot of confidence in the group when we're really healthy and have our full lineup out there. Right now, we have to find ways to win with some of our top guys out."
The Senators, meanwhile, are feeling better about their game. Ottawa is coming off a 4-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Thursday, a game in which it held the Central Division leaders to just 15 shots on goal.
"When we play the system to a tee like that, that's what happens," Senators forward Josh Norris said. "It's not going to be perfect every time, but that's a game we can look back on and use as a baseline to know we can play that way and make it frustrating on other teams. We gave up 15 shots, it's hard for the other team to score when you do that."
Norris snapped a five-game goal drought with a pair of tallies in the win, just his second and third goals in his past 21 games. The two goals gave him 15 on the season to move him into a tie for fourth on the team.
"It's been a little frustrating at times," he said. "It feels good to contribute, I want to do my part. This was definitely a step in the right direction."
The Senators have been solid on the penalty kill over the past month, killing 16 of the past 18 opposition power plays.
--Field Level Media
|Vegas Off vs Ottawa Def
|Ottawa Off vs Vegas Def