The Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks are fresh off a 6-3 battle Sunday night that went in Vegas’ favor. It was one of Vegas’ best efforts of the season, and the Knights will look to replicate that tonight in Vancouver.
With the Oilers suffering a 2-1 loss to St. Louis last night, Vegas (19-13-5) remains in second place in the Pacific Division, trailing Arizona by one point. Vancouver (16-15-4) is just four points out of a wildcard slot with a game in hand, so tonight is a big test for both clubs.
The Knights have gone 8-2-1 in their last 11 games, while Vancouver is 4-6-0 in its last 10.
Here’s what to watch for in tonight’s game.
Contain the kids
Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson have a combined 10 points in 10 games against the Golden Knights, and both scored a goal against Vegas on Sunday.
The two were split up against Montreal, as Boeser joined Bo Horvat on the team’s top line. However, the usual lines were back together at yesterday’s practice, so it appears Boeser and Pettersson will be reunited with J.T. Miller to form a trio that has been deadly this season. In fact, the three are first, second and third in scoring on the Canucks with a combined 98 points in 35 games, good for an average of 2.8 goals per game.
But no matter how Vancouver chooses to deploy its top offensive weapons, Boeser and Pettersson in particular have spelled trouble for the Knights in the past, and there’s no denying the incredible level of talent each possesses. Boeser has 32 points in 35 games, while the sophomore Pettersson is operating at a point-per-game pace with 35 in 35 thus far this season.
Shutting them down, or at least limiting their high-danger chances, will go a long way towards picking up two points.
The Knights’ second line is on absolute fire right now, and that includes the recently-acquired Chandler Stephenson, who has had no trouble adjusting to life with the Knights. Stephenson enters tonight’s game with points in four straight, and he now has three goals and five points in eight games with Vegas. His next goal will be his career-best seventh of the season, but he’s made a difference with and without the puck since joining this line.
Linemates Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, who are now first and second on the team in scoring with 35 and 32 points, respectively, are on five-game point streaks during which they have collected 17 combined points. Pacioretty recorded four points the other night against Vancouver before being named the NHL’s first star of the week, and Stone has three straight multi-point efforts under his belt headed into tonight’s tilt.
Even though it hasn’t been as productive in recent games, the Knights’ top line was extremely impressive from a possession standpoint Tuesday night, combining for a 73.91 percent Corsi at 5-on-5. Horvat and Vancouver’s defense will have their hands full tonight.
Mind your manners
The Golden Knights took five penalties Tuesday night against Minnesota, and it could have cost them dearly. The Wild scored a 5-on-3 goal in the first period, and the Knights gave Minnesota too many chances to get back into the game. Considering how much talent Vancouver’s top power-play unit has, that’s not an option for tonight.
Vegas will have to regain a disciplined mentality.
On the flip side, the Knights need to make good use out of any power-play opportunities that come their way. The Knights scored twice on the man advantage against Vancouver on Sunday, and the Canucks gave up two power-play goals in the beginning of the third period in their 3-1 loss to Montreal on Tuesday. That was the difference in an otherwise-tight game, so Vancouver’s penalty kill is something Vegas should look to attack tonight.
How to Watch
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM