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Wild at Golden Knights Preview: Vegas looks to sweep first set against Minnesota

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After a win on Monday, Vegas looks to take their second straight game against the Wild.

Minnesota Wild v Vegas Golden Knights
Zach Whitecloud of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against the Minnesota Wild at T-Mobile Arena
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights bettered their franchise record against the Minnesota Wild to 3-6-0 on Monday, as they were victorious in a late-game comeback, winning 5-4 in overtime. In every game but one between these two teams, Minnesota has walked away with at least one point in the standings. The Golden Knights demonstrated in the first game this season between the two clubs that they continue to struggle against the State of Hockey’s NHLers.

Yet Vegas handed the Wild their first loss after a six-game winning streak. A large part of that was Mark Stone’s five-point night, all of which were primary assists. That performance tied his Golden Knights high — he scored two goals and three assists against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 6, 2020. He’s scored five points in a game each of the last three seasons.

Vegas will likely face young goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen for the first time on Wednesday, as Cam Talbot played Monday and finished with an .872 save percentage, including giving up each of the game’s last three goals and a goal on Vegas’ first shot of overtime.

The Golden Knights had their own struggles in game one. Marcus Foligno scored twice and had another assist, and Jonas Brodin also had a multi-point night. The Knights did manage to shut down rookie points leader Kirill Kaprizov on Monday, ending a five-game point streak for Minnesota’s leading scorer.

The area where Vegas didn’t struggle was the man advantage. Vegas’ power play is now ranked 17th, having scored on 20.7 percent of its opportunities, including both on Monday. Minnesota’s penalty kill is ranked ninth in the league, having killed off 82.6 percent of penalties. The odds of Vegas getting multiple power-play-goal performances against the Wild are not high.

Meanwhile, the lines were reorganized into the more traditional lineup on Monday late in the game, and that seemed to drive the Golden Knights to better play.

The Golden Knights need to see their production away from Stone improve tonight or they could be in trouble against Minnesota. Vegas has a one-point lead on the St. Louis Blues (with four games in hand) and just two on the Wild (with one). The Golden Knights need a 60-minute performance, as it took late-game heroics to win the first game. It’s time to deliver.

Three things to watch for

  • The Golden Knights’ penalty kill units didn’t make an appearance in the first game against the Wild, a feat that is unlikely to reoccur. Vegas’ shorthanded units are fourth in the league having killed off 87.5 percent of their penalties. The Wild’s power play is dead last in the league with just a 7.9 percent success rate. The Golden Knights should continue to make efforts to play a clean game — they needed all the 5-on-5 time they could get on Monday — but it may not be the end of the world if they get into penalty trouble against Minnesota.
  • So far this season Marc-Andre Fleury has just three games under a .900 save percentage. One of them was Monday’s contest against the Wild as he finished the night at .867. The Golden Knights are 0-2 in games after Fleury’s worst games, despite him having a .940 save percentage in those two games. Fleury wasn’t at his best, but Vegas still has to play better in front of him than they did in the first game.
  • Vegas needs to show up with a complete game effort. After Nicolas Hague’s goal in the third period, the Golden Knights became a dominant force, with a 12-0 edge in shots in the final eight-and-a-half minutes of regulation and overtime. The Knights proved they can dominate the Wild; now they need to do it throughout the game instead of just at the end. The Golden Knights were outshot in the first and second periods 26-18 at 5-on-5 as the Wild created 1.71 expected goals for to Vegas’ 1.58.

Projected lineups

Vegas Golden Knights

Max Pacioretty — Chandler Stephenson — Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Alex Tuch — Cody Glass — Keegan Kolesar
William Carrier — Tomas Nosek — Ryan Reaves

Shea Theodore — Alex Pietrangelo
Alec Martinez — Zach Whitecloud
Hague — Dylan Coghlan

Fleury
Oscar Dansk

Minnesota Wild

Jordan Greenway — Joel Eriksson Ek — Kevin Fiala
Kaprizov — Victor Rask — Mats Zuccarello
Zach Parise — Ryan Hartman — Foligno
Nico Sturm — Nick Bonino — Nick Bjugstad

Ryan Suter — Jared Spurgeon
Brodin — Matt Dumba
Carson Soucy — Ian Cole

Kahkonen
Talbot


How to watch

Time: 7 p.m.

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM