This five-game road trip has been a brutal stretch for the Vegas Golden Knights.
So far, the Knights have played against Philadelphia, Buffalo, Pittsburgh and Columbus; they have come up empty in all four, failing to earn a single point to keep up in the tight race in the Pacific Division.
Vegas is out of a Pacific playoff slot, as the Oilers (who also have 68 points) have two games in hand, but the Knights currently hold the second wildcard seed. However, Dallas — with four games in hand — trails by just one point, and Vancouver, Winnipeg and Anaheim are only 3-4 points away from catching up.
To say this losing streak has come at the worst time would be an understatement.
The Knights have to put an end to the skid tonight when they take on the Winnipeg Jets at Canada Life Centre in what essentially is a four-point game.
They will face a few familiar faces in Paul Stastny and Nate Schmidt, and Laurent Brossoit will go head-to-head against his former team. He is the projected starter tonight with Robin Lehner on injured reserve. Brossoit is 10-8-3 with a 2.78 goals-against average, .899 save percentage and one shutout. He’ll likely go up against Connor Hellebuyck, who is 20-21-9 with a 2.99 goals-against average, .908 save percentage and three shutouts.
The injury hits keep on coming for the Knights, as Reilly Smith was placed on injured reserve yesterday as well. He joins Brett Howden, Mattias Janmark, Brayden McNabb and Lehner, with Mark Stone and Alec Martinez on long-term injured reserve.
But the season is truly starting to slip away from a team that was expected to contend for the Cup. Vegas must find a way to overcome the setbacks, make up for the gaps in the lineup and find a way to win a game.
Vegas put up four goals Sunday against the Blue Jackets, with Jonathan Marchessault, William Carrier, Evgenii Dadonov and Jack Eichel finding the scoresheet. The Knights will have to come up with a similar effort tonight against a Jets team that is averaging just over three goals per game.
Winnipeg has gone 4-2-1 in March and 5-3-2 in its last 10 games. The Knights have gone 3-7-0.
Kyle Connor leads the Jets with 37 goals and 69 points, while Mark Scheifele is second with 55 points and Pierre-Luc DuBois is third with 47. Blake Wheeler has a team-high 35 assists despite missing 14 games.
The Jets rank 13th on the power play (21.6 percent) and 21st on the penalty kill (76.8 percent); Vegas is down to 26th on the power play (17.6 percent) and is 18th on the kill (79 percent).
William Karlsson — Jack Eichel — Marchessault
Carrier — Chandler Stephenson — Nicolas Roy
Dadonov — Nolan Patrick — Keegan Kolesar
Jonas Rondbjerg — Jake Leschyshyn — Michael Amadio
Nicolas Hague — Alex Pietrangelo
Shea Theodore — Zach Whitecloud
Daniil Miromanov — Dylan Coghlan
(injured) Max Pacioretty, Stone, Smith, Janmark, Howden, McNabb, Martinez, Lehner
Stastny — Scheifele — Wheeler
Connor — DuBois — Nikolaj Ehlers
Andrew Copp — Adam Lowry — Evgeny Svechnikov
Kristian Vesalainen — Dominic Toninato — Jansen Harkins
Josh Morrissey — Dylan DeMelo
Brenden Dillon — Neal Pionk
Logan Stanley — Schmidt
(injured) Cole Perfetti, Kristian Reichel, Nathan Beaulieu