The Vegas Golden Knights and the Anaheim Ducks will conclude their first-ever season series as the Ducks look for their first win and the Knights look for the sweep. The Ducks came close once, taking Vegas to overtime, but the Golden Knights managed to thwart any late advances, winning in a shootout.
Part of this has been the revenge game of Shea Theodore, who has two points (one goal, one assist) in the three games against the team that drafted then traded him. Theodore might be injured, unfortunately, for this contest though. He missed the Knights' previous game against the Montreal Canadiens.
This isn't good news for the Ducks, who are currently sitting on the playoff bubble. As of writing, the Ducks stand just one point above the Calgary Flames, who have a game in hand. Another loss to the Golden Knights could be quite costly for Anaheim.
The Ducks are led by Ryan Getzlaf, who, since returning from injury, is at a near point per game pace, with 7-28—35 in 36 games. Corey Perry also hasn't been bad this season, posting 12-21—33 in 49 games. Finally, first-time All-Star Rickard Rakell has 22-24—46 in 55 games. The Ducks do have a solid offense, if a little top-heavy.
Score first or last
The Golden Knights are 28-4-3 when scoring the last goal in regulation. They're 22-3-1 when scoring the first goal, and they're 5-10-1 when scoring neither first nor last. That reveals how important it is to have momentum, either gaining it early or keeping it late.
Against the Ducks, the Knights are 3-0 when scoring last. That will be the more important marker — scoring so that the Ducks can't get a comeback going if the Knights are up or gaining momentum and catching up to the Ducks if the Knights are down.
Either way, it will be a better game for Vegas if the Knights score in the third period and avoid an early deficit in the first.
Shutting down the Ducks' power play
Anaheim has two power-play goals against a steady Knights penalty kill, and got some good chances in the third game. If the Knights want to get a season sweep on a Pacific division rival, they'll need to slow down an imposing power play.
The Knights may have to play better on the penalty kill without Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, as well. The Knights' most important defensive center sustained an apparent upper-body injury against Montreal and left with just 2:02 played.
Considering how important Bellemare is to the Knights' penalty kill, and that Tomas Nosek, Bellemare's fourth-line (and PK) partner, just returned from an injury of his own, this is a blow to the bottom six.
It remains to be seen whether the Knights penalty kill can slow down the Ducks' man advantage, but it remains important that they do so.
Struggling John Gibson
Gibson has been the Ducks' starter for all three of the contests and has been put through the ringer by the Golden Knights. He's allowed 10 goals in three games and has a .916 save percentage, a few ticks below his save percentage outside of Knights games, at .925.
If Gibson continues to struggle and allow three to four goals, then this game is going to the Knights. It remains to be seen how Marc-Andre Fleury plays against Anaheim, as he's not yet faced them this season, but the results of Gibson versus the Knights are in. They're not great for the Ducks, and that should help Vegas.
How to Watch
Time: 7 p.m. PT
TV: AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM