Let’s get this out of the way: yesterday was bad! What should have been a win ended up as a 4-3 loss in overtime to the Montreal Canadiens. To lose like that after maintaining the lead for over 25 minutes... just brutal.
Vegas’ loss to L.A. on Dec. 8 feels like it was months ago, but no, it was just two weeks ago. The 5-1 loss was certainly one to forget. The Golden Knights broke their 21-game penalty kill streak, and the offense just couldn’t get anything going because of a stellar performance from Jonathan Quick.
The Golden Knights’ modus operandi today is retribution. They lost in an embarrassing fashion to the worst team in the NHL. Today, Los Angeles is in Vegas’ house. Today is payback.
Here’s what to watch for as the Golden Knights face the Kings.
The Brandon Pirri Show
What kind of player scores three goals in just their first two games of the season?
Brandon Pirri, that’s who. The player with an impressive 57.41 in Corsi at even strength. The player who’s been the star of all 25:46 he’s played. The player that makes you go, “Who’s Max Pacioretty?”
Pirri is something of a Cinderella story for the Golden Knights. The 27-year-old was dominating on the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, but couldn’t get the opportunity to prove himself in the big leagues. Now that he has the opportunity, he’s taking advantage.
At this point, Pirri is likely thinking he can secure a spot on the Knights’ roster even after Pacioretty returns from his injury in less than a week. It would force Vegas’ hand to send down another player that may or may not clear waivers, but Pirri’s trying to prove he might be worth the risk. Expect Pirri to be front and center today. Third game’s a charm, right?
The Kings at their Sunday best
The Kings have won 3 of 5 regular season games total against the Golden Knights. We all know what happened in the playoffs, but don’t let the sweep negate the fact that those were all excellent, evenly-matched games.
Los Angeles brings it when they play Vegas. In the regular season, the Kings are the fourth most successful team against the Golden Knights (the Wild, Blues, and Canadiens are the first, second, and third respectively). With a Corsi for of 45.83%, the Kings don’t necessarily seem like they’d be a threat, but the win column says otherwise.
There are a few factors at play here. One is consistently elite goaltending from Jonathan Quick. Another is the simple desire to beat a rival.
The real difference, though, might be special teams. The Golden Knights have yet to score a power play goal against the Kings in the regular season. Meanwhile, the Kings have earned 4. The Kings have the third worst penalty kill in the league right now, but there’s nothing like a rivalry game to get the juices flowing.
Malcolm Subban is very likely to start tonight. Marc-Andre Fleury blocked a season-high of 43 shots last night. The man needs some rest.
Tonight’s game would be Subban’s sixth start of the season. He currently has a save percentage of .881 but has largely been praised for his performance. His most recent game against the Columbus Blue Jackets was his best yet—he only allowed one goal on a Blue Jackets power play the whole game.
Gerard Gallant famously declared last week he was not going to comment on lineup changes, though he’s since broken that promise. He’s confirmed Colin Miller will be out again today. He did not confirm, however, who will be in the net tonight.
Still, there’s reason to believe it’ll be Subban. The young goaltender was seen practicing this morning at City National Arena. And Gallant winked when he told reporters that he wasn’t sure who would start tonight. So, take that as you will.
How to Watch
Time: 5 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet-Rocky Mountain, Fox Sports West, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM