The Golden Knights will look to end their five-game home stand with a win on Sunday night when they host the Ottawa Senators. The Knights are 2-1-1 so far during this five-game home stand, but they have lost their last two games to Vancouver and Tampa Bay.
The big news following Friday’s loss to the Lightning was the status of Max Pacioretty. Patches left the game early in the first period after being hit by defensemen Braydon Coburn.
Pacioretty will be out tonight and is day-to-day with an upper body injury, according to head coach Gerard Gallant. Tomas Hyka will take Patches’ spot in the lineup.
On the flip side, the Senators are banged up and will be without rookie Brady Tkachuk, who is sidelined with a leg injury, defenseman Cody Ceci and forward Zack Smith.
Ottawa is rebuilding this season and counting on a lot of young players, but all these injuries could make life even more difficult for them.
Injury issues aside, here are three things to watch for during tonight’s game:
The Golden Knights’ struggles on the power play are well-documented. The team is 3-for-32 (9.4 percent) with the man-advantage this season and they have struggled to generate quality chances.
Well, perhaps Ottawa and their horrific penalty kill are the antidote? So far this season the Senators have allowed 10 power play goals against and have only converted on 67.7 percent of their penalty kills, which ranks 29th in the NHL ahead of only Philadelphia and Carolina.
If the Knights’ power play can’t get going against the Senators, then I don’t know who, or what, will fix this unit.
Who will step up in Patches’ absence?
Hyka will slide into Pacioretty’s spot on the second line alongside Erik Haula and Alex Tuch, but we have seen Gallant juggle the lines a bit this season. With Hyka already being in and out of the lineup, you have to wonder how long of a leash Gallant will give him on the second line.
As for Pacioretty’s power play spot, we’ll see who Gallant decides to put there. Hyka will likely see some time on the power play, but I could also see Gallant lean on the top line more and really try to get something going on the man-advantage.
Although Pacioretty — statistically speaking — is not having the best start to his season, he has been a reliable winger for Gallant and someone will need to step up in his absence.
Okay, I probably should not go that far, but defenseman Thomas Chabot is a special player for the Senators and the 21-year-old Quebec native is helping Ottawa fans move on from Erik Karlsson.
In an expanded role this season, Chabot is thriving. In nine games he has three goals and eight assists, and he has pulled off a few highlight-reel plays like this one:
Needless to say, Chabot is a very dangerous player and his ability to jump in off the rush, which Ottawa loves to do this year, is something the Golden Knights will need to be aware of.
How to Watch
Time: 8 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM