The Vegas Golden Knights (3-1-0) are coming off a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Calgary Flames and will look to bounce back tonight against the visiting Winnipeg Jets (2-1-0). Winnipeg is in the second half of a back-to-back after facing Colorado last night. The Jets pulled off a 4-3 overtime victory when Neal Pionk scored his second of the game just 31 seconds into extra time.
Both teams converted on the power play in the contest, though Winnipeg held a lethal Colorado power play to just one opportunity. That’s something the Golden Knights will look to replicate tonight after a disastrous discipline-free second period in Calgary.
That helped force the Golden Knights’ undefeated streak to come to an end, and it was a waste of an outstanding performance by Logan Thompson. Thompson has a .938 save percentage in three starts this season, while Adin Hill stopped 31 of 33 shots for a .939 save percentage against Seattle in his lone start of the year.
Both goalies have been very reliable for Vegas, and that’s something the Golden Knights will need once again tonight against an opponent they have struggled to beat.
The Golden Knights hold an all-time record of 3-6-2 against Winnipeg, though that does not include the five-game series win in the Western Conference Final back in 2018. Vegas went 0-2-1 against the Jets last season and has not defeated Winnipeg since March 21, 2019.
William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault combined for four goals in that 5-0 shutout win. That is the only time the Golden Knights have defeated the Jets since the inaugural campaign.
Needless to say, the Golden Knights are hoping to change that tonight.
A top priority for Vegas will be discipline, as the club’s six consecutive penalties in the second period against Calgary proved to be the difference in the game. That, along with an uninspired effort by the 18 players skating in front of Thompson.
The Jets’ power play ranks 16th overall at 20 percent, while Vegas’ trails slightly at 18.8 percent. Winnipeg has struggled on the penalty kill early this season, neutralizing just 71.4 percent of opponents’ power plays. Vegas has fared slightly better at 76.9 percent, though both teams’ special teams have been comparably average.
Kyle Connor leads all Jets skaters by a wide margin with 20 points in 11 games in the all-time series against Vegas, while Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler each have 12.
For the Golden Knights, the Misfits Line leads the way; Karlsson has nine points, Reilly Smith has seven and Marchessault has four.
Goaltender Connor Hellebuyck is 6-1-1 all-time against Vegas with a 2.89 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. However, since he got the nod last night, it’s possible backup David Rittich will get the call tonight in Vegas.
Rittich has yet to make an appearance with the Jets after going 6-3-4 with a 3.57 goals-against average and .886 save percentage with Nashville last season.
He is 2-5-0 with a 3.76 goals-against average and .872 save percentage all-time against Vegas.
The Golden Knights will face the Jets again at the end of this month and once more on Dec. 13 in Winnipeg.
Nikolaj Ehlers missed last night’s game with an undisclosed injury, clearing the way for Axel Jonsson-Fjallby — recently claimed off waivers from the Washington Capitals — to make his Jets debut.