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Gameday: Golden Knights look to end Coyotes’ Stanley Cup Playoff hopes

Vegas might be secure in its playoff spot, but Arizona is clinging for dear life.

NHL: Vegas Golden Knights at Arizona Coyotes Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Vegas Golden Knights are in the Fortress for the last time during the regular season to play the Arizona Coyotes. While for Vegas this might seem like a cute exhibition game, Arizona is fighting for a spot in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Here’s what needs to happen for the Coyotes to secure a playoff spot:

This gives the Coyotes a 2.6% chance of getting that final Wild Card spot. But they’re playing in Vegas tonight, so maybe Arizona is feeling lucky.

Here’s what to look for in tonight’s game.

A flower in bloom

In perhaps the most exciting news to come out of this week, Marc-Andre Fleury is back in action. He was seen at practice Wednesday, and Maxime Lagace was sent back down to the Chicago Wolves, so one can only assume that Fleury will be back in the net tonight.

Heading into the playoffs, getting that game experience is crucial. Fleury himself told NHL.com on Wednesday how important it is to him: “I find you can do a lot in practice, a lot in the gym, but it’s never like a game.

“So I think it would be good to get out there and get into traffic, try to find pucks and get used to the speed of the game a bit again.”

Against the Coyotes this season, Fleury has a save percentage of .907, with two wins (one in OT) and one loss to his name. The last time Vegas played Arizona, the goalie allowed 4 goals out of 25 shots. Three of the Coyotes’ goals came at even strength in the heart of the high-danger scoring zones.

Still, today is a new today. There is much to be excited about if Fleury returns tonight. Even if tonight isn’t a win, it’s one step closer to getting this team ready for the Stanley Cup run.

On the other side…

Darcy Kuemper is starting tonight. If you watched how Tuesday unfolded, you know that’s an absurd development.

Kuemper took a stick near the eye in Arizona’s 3-1 loss to Los Angeles on Tuesday. In an act of emergency, the Coyotes recalled Adin Hill from AHL Tucson in the event that Calvin Pickard would have to settle in.

But with Arizona’s season on the line, Kuemper will attempt to go full Herculean mode to will the Coyotes into the playoffs. First thing’s first: Colorado goes on first before puck drops at T-Mobile Arena. Eyes will be on that one, and then it’s up to the Coyotes to pull it off.

By the way: Kuemper is 13-6-3 in his past 22 starts (all consecutive, mind you). He has a .943 save percentage and a goals-against average of 1.73. He’s been good. He’s been the reason why Arizona is in this position.

This should be good.

How to watch

7 p.m. PT

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM