The big news ahead of tonight’s tilt against the Maple Leafs is that Max Pacioretty is expected to be back in the lineup, which should be a huge boost to Vegas’ offense. Pacioretty likely will slot in on the second line with Erik Haula and Alex Tuch, who have both played very well in recent games.
Toronto is an especially fitting opponent for Pacioretty’s return considering he’s scored more goals against Toronto (19) than against any other team in the league.
The Leafs will be without Auston Matthews and William Nylander, with John Tavares and Nazem Kadri moving up a line in Matthews’ absence. Both centers have strong two-way games, so generating scoring chances will be a challenge.
However, Toronto (9-5-0) is 3-5-0 on home ice this season, and as Mike pointed out in today’s preview, the Leafs haven’t scored a goal in the first two periods in any of their last five home games. That’s something Vegas will look to take advantage of tonight.
It appears as though Ryan Carpenter will be a healthy scratch tonight with Pacioretty back in the fold. UPDATE: Deryk Engelland will not play tonight; Jon Merrill will draw back into the lineup.
Here are the projected lineups for both clubs:
Marchessault — Karlsson — Smith
Pacioretty — Haula — Tuch
Nosek — Eakin — Hyka
Carrier — Bellemare — Reaves
McNabb — Miller
Theodore — Holden
Merrill — Hunt
Hyman (#11) — Tavares (#91) — Marner (#16)
Marleau (#12) — Kadri (#43) — Kapanen (#24)
Johnsson (#18) — Lindholm (#26) — Brown (#28)
Ennis (#63) — Gauthier (#33) — Leivo (#32)
Rielly (#44) — Hainsey (#2)
Gardiner (#51) — Zaitsev (#22)
Dermott (#23) — Ozhiganov (#92)