The Vegas Golden Knights (41-16-5) welcome the Los Angeles Kings (34-24-5) to town for the home half of a back-to-back.
In the first half played last night, the Golden Knights dropped a two-goal third period lead before falling in overtime thanks to a Dustin Brown game-winning goal on an overtime power play.
The short version goes — Ryan Reaves played seven minutes in his Golden Knights debut, in which time his linemate was injured thanks to a blindside hit that Reaves, unsurprisingly, did not prevent. James Neal was injured after hitting Jake Muzzin. David Perron sort of push-fought Drew Doughty. Cody Eakin head butted a puck into his own net while on the penalty kill thanks to a Reaves hooking penalty. Los Angeles tied it late and won it in overtime. Marc-Andre Fleury made 41 saves in the loss and Jonathan Quick was the only reason the Knights didn’t score ten goals. Everyone was sad.
Tonight, the Golden Knights seek redemption and attempt to move one step closer to clinching a playoff spot and the Pacific Division title.
The exact number for the Golden Knights to clinch a top-three spot in the division, or the Division title outright, varies from team to team (SJS 27, ANH 24, LAK 25, CGY 25), but the magic number to make sure no one can catch them is 27 points, either through wins, OTL’s or lost points from the teams below them in the standings.
In other words, they’re close. Very close.
Here are two key things to watch tonight as the Golden Knights look to avenge their defeat against the L.A Kings.
Welcome to the era of Tomas Tatar
The Golden Knights’ big trade deadline acquisition is set to make his debut tonight and will likely be on the third line with Alex Tuch and presumably Cody Eakin when everyone is healthy.
Tonight, we’re expecting Neal to be out of the lineup so it is anyone’s guess which line Tatar will slot into. Be it the second in place of Neal or with Tomas Hyka, who was recalled today, on the third line.
The Czech speedster enters the game with 16 goals and 28 points on the season, a statistically down season for the normally consistent winger. The Golden Knights hope that a more sheltered role with new linemates is what Tatar needs to right his season heading into the playoffs.
Stay out of the box!
The Kings went 2-for-4 with the man advantage last night and, if the Golden Knights hope to not repeat history, they need to stay out of the penalty box.
The Golden Knights PK is a bit of an issue for the team, sitting seventeenth in the league at 79.9 percent. They weren’t able to address this issue at the deadline so the only way to keep it from hurting them is to simply stay out of the box in the first place.
So, it’s a good thing they don’t have a physical fourth-line enforcer prone to taking bad penalties in the lineup...
How to Watch:
Puck drop is at 7:30PM PT and will be broadcast on NBCSN.