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Gameday: Golden Knights welcome the Connor McDavid show to Las Vegas

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McDavid has been doing it all for the Oilers recently. Can the Golden Knights find a way to slow him down?

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Fresh off a win against the Dallas Stars on Friday in the Lone Star state, the Vegas Golden Knights are back at home to host the suddenly surging Edmonton Oilers.

Unsurprisingly, the Oilers resurgence can be attributed to No. 97, Connor McDavid, who is nearly unstoppable right now, registering 20 points in his last 10 games. However, the Golden Knights have been nearly unstoppable recently too, winning seven of their last eight games.

With the playoff race tightening up in the Western Conference, every point from here on out is significant, especially for both Edmonton and Vegas. Given what’s at stake for both teams, we should have a pretty entertaining game to watch.

Let’s break it all down.

Don’t take the Oilers lightly

Every fanbase loves to make fun of the tire fire that is the Edmonton Oilers organization. From what feels like their endless supply of lottery picks (or busts) to their poor trades (like Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson, or Jordan Eberle for Ryan Strome) to their salary cap issues and incompetence in the front office, the punch lines write themselves.

However, despite their glut of issues, the Oilers are actually playing decent hockey right now. In its last 12 games, Edmonton has posted an 8-3-1 record, and with their overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night, they are now just seven points back of the Coyotes for the final wild card spot in the Western Conference with one game in-hand.

A lot would have to go right for the Oilers to make the playoffs, but based on the way Edmonton has played recently, you can likely bank on them playing desperate hockey against the Golden Knights.

With a matchup against the San Jose Sharks looming on Monday, Vegas can’t afford to overlook the Oilers on Sunday, especially with the Coyotes lingering in the playoff picture.

Score first

The first goal has been absolutely crucial for the Oilers. Since February 2, Edmonton is 1-9 when they give up the first goal (their lone win was against the Ottawa Senators), and are 8-2-1 when they score first.

On the flip side, the Golden Knights are slightly better than the Oilers when it comes to how the first goal impacts their results, but it is an important component of Vegas’ game, too. Since February 1, the Golden Knights are 7-1 when they score first, and are 3-7-1 when they allow the first goal.

Needless to say, the first team to score on Sunday night will gain a massive advantage.

Subban in net

Last weekend the Golden Knights were faced with a similar situation where they had back-to-back games against Pacific Division foes. Their first game was against an opponent Vegas should beat (Vancouver), and the second game was against a tougher opponent (Calgary).

With Marc-Andre Fleury dealing with a lower-body injury, Malcolm Subban will be in the cage against the Oilers — a team Vegas should beat. Hopefully Fleury will be back sooner rather than later.

Stop No. 97

Connor McDavid has been on a tear recently. The Oilers’ captain is on a seven-game multi-point streak and he has been singlehandedly keeping Edmonton’s slim playoff chances alive with ridiculous individual efforts like this one:

With the way McDavid has been playing recently, I don't know if Vegas can keep him off the score sheet, but they can at least try to slow him down. Good luck.


How to watch

Time: 7 pm PT

TV: AT&T SportsNet, NBCSN, Sportsnet Pacific

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM