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3 things to watch for as the Golden Knights take on the Stars

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It’s the first meeting of the season between the two teams holding both wild card spots in the Western Conference.

Vegas Golden Knights v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights will play their fourth back-to-back this season, but it’s a home game this time around. Vegas welcomes the Dallas Stars to T-Mobile Arena tonight in the first meeting of the season between both teams.

Vegas took two of three last season against Dallas, including the memorable inaugural game on opening night in Dallas. The Golden Knights are making a short trip back to Las Vegas from Los Angeles after their matinee meeting with the Kings on Saturday, where the Knights lost 5-1.

The Knights are 7-3 in their last 10 and sit in fourth place in the Pacific Division. The Stars are in a similar position, sitting at fourth place in the Central Division and are currently riding a four-game win streak, their longest of the season.

The Return of Subban?

He hasn't been hurt or anything, but we haven't seen Malcolm Subban for quite some time. The last time he was in net was Nov. 19 when he allowed seven goals against the Calgary Flames. The performance wasn’t entirely on Subban, as much of the team played poorly in front of him. Marc-Andre Fleury stepped up after that disastrous showing, going 7-2 in nine straight starts.

It would be extremely surprising if Gerard Gallant makes the call to start Fleury after playing yesterday, considering it would be his 10th game in a row and he didn’t play particularly great. Subban is 0-4-0 in five appearances this season.

Battle of the D

The Stars have allowed just 2.55 goals per game this season, which is second best in the league. Their penalty kill is ranked fifth, and they’ve allowed the 13th least amount of shots on goal. The Golden Knights are tied for 10th in goals allowed with 2.84, and rank second in penalty kill percentage and shots on goals allowed.

With the big man Ben Bishop starting for Dallas, the Golden Knights will have to figure out a way to solve him and emerging rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen.

Meanwhile, Subban and the Knights will have their hands full with the always threatening duo of Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin, as well as Alexander Radulov rounding out their top line. After arguably Nate Schmidt’s worst game of his season yesterday against the Kings, he’ll have to step up in order to shut them down.

First line spotlight

Vegas’ top line hasn’t been able to click so far like they did last year. The trio of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Reilly Smith has not produced to the caliber of last season. They’ve shown flashes, but haven’t been able to get it together on a consistent basis. Marchessault has just one goal in his last 10 games, Karlsson went on a four-game goal streak, but only has an assist in the past three games. Smith hasn’t done much recently aside from a three-point game against the Blackhawks. The top line will need to be on top of their game against the Stars tonight.

On that note, the Golden Knights will need to contain the Stars’ top line of Benn, Seguin and Radulov. Benn has three goals and two assists during this win streak. While they’re not necessarily piling up the points at a ludicrous rate, they’re generating shots — Radulov has 11 shots, Seguin has 12 and Benn has 13. That’s a lot of shots to handle from one line and Subban will have to be on his game to stop them.

How to Watch

Time: 6 p.m. PT

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

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM