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2 things to watch as the Golden Knights take on the Predators

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Vegas has its first date with the reigning Western Conference champions.

NHL: Anaheim Ducks at Vegas Golden Knights
Golden Knights center Erik Haula (56) and right wing Alex Tuch (89) celebrate
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights will take on the Nashville Predators in what should be an interesting clash. Primarily because of the family dynamics of the Subbans — Malcolm Subban faces P.K. Subban. This will be the first time the brothers face off.

The Predators enter their first meeting with the Golden Knights on a three-game winning streak and four wins in their past five. Part of the reason is recent trade acquisition Kyle Turris, who has 12 points through 13 games with Nashville. His play has elevated linemates Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith, who have 5-6—11 and 7-5—12 since Turris’ arrival.

The Nashville defense has also had a hand in offensive production, with three of its top six scorers coming from the blueline. That includes Roman Josi with 6-13—19, Mattias Ekholm with 6-12—18, and Subban with 4-14—18.

Meanwhile, the Golden Knights appear to have figured things out on their end since that three-game losing streak. Vegas has won two in a row, both coming past regulation. Vegas made a late comeback Tuesday in a 4-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks, which featured the first shootout in franchise history.

Here’s what to expect.

Shot selection

It’s not unusual to see multiple missed shots and blocks by the opposing team in a game. But against the Ducks, the Golden Knights had more than usual in both of those categories. They had 18 shots blocked by the Ducks and missed the net on 14 more.

The Golden Knights need to be more careful on shot selection. A few of those missed shots could have gone into an empty net. More than a few of the blocked shots represented good chances as well.

If the Knights were more conservative when shooting, they could have outclassed the Ducks before having to go to overtime. That’s been the case in games multiple times, including during the losing streak.

Should the Golden Knights be more accurate against Nashville, they stand a good chance of beating Nashville goaltender Pekka Rinne.

Second frame improvement

Over the past five games, the Golden Knights have been outscored in the second period 9-1. That includes three goals against the Ducks and the Dallas Stars (which jump-started the losing streak). The ghosts of the third period, who haunted the Knights during October and early November, have packed up and moved to the second.

A few solutions — don’t leave lines on the ice too long in the middle frame - and a change of mentality. The Knights have been able to successfully make an impact in the first and come back in the third recently. They’ve taken the middle 20 off.

Keeping players in the game through a full 60 is important, and it’s something the Knights have shown at various points in the season.

But there’s really no simple solution to this. If the Knights can figure out a first intermission routine that works, and they can play better in the second period against the Predators, the Knights can stop relying on overtime.

How to Watch

Time: 5 p.m. PT

Watch: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM