The Vegas Golden Knights canceled media availability after the 5-4 win on Tuesday. They did so out of COVID-19 protocol, and Tomas Nosek disappeared from game action during the second period. Shortly after, they canceled practice on Wednesday.
Yet here we are, proceeding ahead with the game Thursday night as the Golden Knights face the Ducks with a different lineup. Part of that is Keegan Kolesar in for Nosek, but part of it is Shea Theodore missing a game for the first time since April 6, 2019. With the already existing absences of Brayden McNabb, Theodore is a huge loss.
The Golden Knights will likely roll with a top defensive pairing of Alec Martinez and the returning Alex Pietrangelo. The Golden Knights already had Dylan Coghlan in the lineup as a rookie.
Vegas allowed four goals in the first game of this set. Their offense kept rolling which allowed them the win, but the defense needs to be better. Nicolas Hague was on ice for three goals against and Coghlan for two. Both young defensemen need to be better to earn time once Vegas’s top three are back.
For seemingly the first time this season, the line of Mark Stone, Chandler Stephenson and Max Pacioretty was outplayed at 5-on-5. They had a 49.36 percent expected goal share with .45 for and .46 against. They allowed a goal to their one for. As that line goes so goes the team, and Vegas wasn’t as good as they probably should be, with just a 53.05 percent expected goal share against the 27th-ranked team.
Vegas is shorthanded again. But this game will be played and they can’t have excuses. The team is 8-1-1 so far this season, and to keep that three-game winning streak and five-game point streak going, they’ll likely need to be better than they were on Tuesday.
3 things to watch for
- After a .826 save percentage on Tuesday, Marc-Andre Fleury’s first bad start of the season, Robin Lehner will get the net against John Gibson on Thursday. Lehner has had a bad start to the season with a .890 save percentage while Gibson currently has a .918. Fleury gave up four goals to what was the league’s worst offense. Lehner will need to do better than that, especially with an offensive driver like Theodore missing.
- The power play had one of their best games this season, despite their inability to score on Tuesday. Their .89 expected goals mark in just two minutes represented their fifth-best of the season. In the four better games they had six minutes or more. They were doing something right as they also picked up three high-danger chances and five scoring opportunities. A conversion in this game could help a lot.
- Three of the Ducks’ forward lines had a positive Corsi on Tuesday while just one had a positive expected goal share (the line of Ryan Getzlaf, Adam Henrique and Troy Terry finished with a 60.83 mark there). Vegas needs to be better about limiting the amount of shots Anaheim gets near the net.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM