The Vegas Golden Knights will use their early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs as motivation heading into next season.
"As wrong as it went a couple of days ago, and as much as it stings now and as little sleep as all of us has gotten in the last couple nights … I genuinely believe in the long run that we'll be better from this," forward Max Pacioretty said Thursday. "We have to make it our goal, everyone's goal individually, is that, [No.] 1, make sure that this doesn't happen again, but make sure that we use this adversity and not take things for granted."
The Golden Knights' second season ended Tuesday with a 5-4 overtime loss to the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of the Western Conference First Round. Vegas reached the Stanley Cup Final last season, losing to the Washington Capitals in five games.
"We know what we have in here," center Paul Stastny said. "It's not a one-and-done team. What happened to us lights a spark under us. The older guys will be extra motivated, and the younger guys will see how important it is not to waste opportunities and know what it takes to win in this league."
The Golden Knights had a 3-1 series lead against the Sharks. San Jose won 5-2 in Game 5, then won Game 6 2-1 in the second overtime on a shorthanded goal by Tomas Hertl.
Vegas had a 3-0 lead in the third period of Game 7 when forward Cody Eakin received a five-minute major and game misconduct for cross-checking Sharks center Joe Pavelski. San Jose scored four goals in 4:01 on the resulting power play to take a 4-3 lead.