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Avalanche at Golden Knights Preview: Vegas looks to bounce back in critical game

The Knights finish up the back-to-back after losing 3-1 last night in Arizona.

Colorado Avalanche v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights played the worst team in the league last night and fell short, suffering a 3-1 loss in Arizona.

Tonight, the Knights need to find a way to win when they host the league-best Colorado Avalanche for the final time in the 2021-22 regular season.

Both teams have won one game in the season series, with Colorado recently shutting out the Knights in a 2-0 decision last week.

That marked the first time in franchise history that the Knights were held without a goal in consecutive games and also featured this hit by Nathan MacKinnon:

Tonight’s game will honor Black History Month.

Per the Golden Knights:

BLACK HISTORY NIGHT

During warmups, the Golden Knights will wear specialty jerseys that will be signed and available for purchase through an online auction. Locker nameplates will be bundled with the jerseys and available online. Fans can visit BHM2022.givesmart.com or text “BHM2022” to 76278. The auction will begin at 5:45 p.m. PT and conclude at the 10:00 minute mark of the third period. Warmup pucks will also be for sale after the game begins, with a limited number available inside the arena outside of Section 11. A portion of the proceeds from Saturday will benefit a scholarship through the Urban Chamber of Commerce.

Professional boxer and grandson of Muhammad Ali, Nico Ali Walsh, will ring the rally siren after the teams take the ice for the start of the first period. Following the second frame, Broadway in the Hood, a local youth organization, will perform during the intermission. For more information regarding Broadway in the Hood, fans can visit broadwayinthehood.org. To begin the third period, Roxann McCoy, President of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, will ring the siren at T-Mobile Arena. Official team merchandise for Black History Month is available now at The Arsenal at City National Arena.

The Knights have won three games this month; two came against the Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks, and the other came against an Oilers team that (at the time) was in the midst of a massive slump.

Vegas has lost to Calgary (6-0), Colorado (2-0), Los Angeles (4-3, OT) and Arizona (3-1).

As a result, the Knights have fallen to third place in the Pacific Division and currently hold just a one-point lead over the Oilers, who play tomorrow as well.

Last night was the game Vegas needed to win; that didn’t happen, which puts some added pressure on a struggling club against the red-hot Avs, who have won six of their last eight games and lead all teams with 80 points.

The Avalanche were trailing 3-0 last night against Winnipeg but stormed back with six straight goals.

Tonight’s game is not going to be easy in any sense of the word.

If the Knights don’t come out on top, they could be the second wildcard team by the end of the week, barely holding on to a playoff slot after leading the division for much of the season.

Teams throughout the Pacific are thriving; the Golden Knights are fading.

For the first time in franchise history, the Golden Knights might not make the playoffs. It is too early to make any pronouncements, especially ahead of a game against such a potent offense.

But the Knights have two months of hockey left, with 16 games coming in 30 days in March. So if not now, when?

Max Pacioretty and Mattias Janmark left last night’s game with injuries, Jonathan Marchessault missed the game with the flu and Mark Stone remains on long-term injured reserve.

The Knights could get Robin Lehner back tonight, who is eligible to return from injured reserve at any time (though his availability is uncertain), or they could go back to Laurent Brossoit, who had another strong performance last night. Logan Thompson will be in the mix as well, but Pete DeBoer may be hesitant to put him in that position considering the gravity of the situation.

The team recalled Jonas Rondbjerg and reassigned Jake Leschyshyn to the Henderson Silver Knights ahead of tonight’s game.

This is not a must-win game; the Knights are in third place in the Pacific Division standings and still have time to turn things around.

However, the time for “there’s still plenty of hockey” and “they just didn’t get the results” and “they’ll get them next time” cliches is running out.

Even if the Knights don’t win this game, the type of performance they deliver will be telling.

Quick hits

Colorado Avalanche

Record: 38-10-4, 80 points (first in NHL)
Power play: 22.9 percent (10)
Penalty kill: 77.3 percent (21)
Goals per game: 3.98 (2)
Goals against per game: 2.83 (14)
Leading scorers: Nazem Kadri (22-44—66), Mikko Rantanen (26-38—64), Cale Makar (18-37—55), Gabriel Landeskog (28-26—54), MacKinnon (14-36—50)
Projected goalie: Darcy Kuemper (25-6-2, 2.47 GAA, .919 SV%, 2 SO)

Golden Knights

Record: 29-19-4, 62 points (third in Pacific Division)
Power play: 18.8 percent (21)
Penalty kill: 79.9 percent (16)
Goals per game: 3.19 (12)
Goals against per game: 2.92 (16)
Leading scorers: Chandler Stephenson (13-27—40), Marchessault (20-15—35), Shea Theodore (8-26—34), Reilly Smith (14-19—33), Alex Pietrangelo (7-21—28)*
Goalies: Lehner (19-13-1, 2.86 GAA, .907 SV%, 1 SO); Brossoit (9-5-3, 2.66 GAA, .905 SV%, 1 SO); Thompson (1-1-0, 2.07 GAA, .935 SV%)

*Stone is tied for fifth on the team with 28 points in 28 games but remains out of the lineup


How to watch

Time: 7 p.m.

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM