The Golden Knights were almost perfect in the month of December last season, going 11-1-1 in 13 games. Tonight marks the first game in December of the 2018-19 season, and Vegas has a chance to improve on an already-impressive five-game winning streak with the team’s second trip to Edmonton in the last two weeks.
The last time the Knights put together a six-game winning streak was, fittingly, last December, as part of a franchise-long eight-game winning streak from Dec. 14 to Jan. 2.
While the Knights came away victorious with a 6-3 win against the Oilers in the Nov. 18 matchup, tonight will be a very different game for a few reasons.
For one thing, the Oilers have a new bench boss in Ken Hitchcock, as Todd McLellan was relieved of his duties following the team’s 6-3 loss to the Knights.
For another, Vegas will get its first taste of Mikko Koskinen, who has been the far superior netminder for the Oilers this season. Koskinen is 4-0-0 on home ice with a 1.08 goals-against average and .965 save percentage. His 7-2-1 record on the year is a stark contrast from Cam Talbot’s 5-9-1, and he has won each of his last three starts. The Oilers have won back-to-back games and will look to complete their three-game homestand with a win against the Knights tonight.
Obviously, Connor McDavid is the player to watch in this one, as his speed makes him one of the most dynamic players in the world. He has three goals and nine points in five career games against Vegas, and he’ll look for more in tonight’s tilt.
However, he’ll have to go through Marc-Andre Fleury, who has won six games in a row. Fleury has a league-high five shutouts on the year and stopped 29 of 32 shots when these teams met a few weeks ago. But Jonathan Marchessault was the star of that game, scoring two goals and an assist in the winning effort.
Entering tonight’s game, Max Pacioretty is riding a seven-game point streak during which time he has collected eight goals and 11 points. Linemate Alex Tuch has points in five straight, scoring three goals and eight points in that stretch. Don’t forget about William Karlsson’s goal-scoring streak, as Wild Bill has a goal in three straight contests.
Here are the projected lineups for both clubs:
Marchessault — Karlsson — Smith
Pacioretty — Eakin — Tuch
Nosek — Carpenter — Carr
Carrier — Bellemare — Reaves
McNabb — Schmidt
Theodore — Engelland
Holden — Miller
Draisaitl — McDavid — Chiasson
Caggiula — Nugent-Hopkins — Puljujarvi
Lucic — Brodziak — Kassian
Khaira — Spooner — Rattie
Klefbom — Larsson
Nurse — Russell
Gravel — Benning