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Blackhawks at Golden Knights Preview: Which Vegas team will show up to the must-win game?

The one that got shut out twice this week or the one that pulled off a 6-1 win?

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Vegas Golden Knights Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Note: Projected lineups have been updated

The Vegas Golden Knights lit the lamp six times Thursday against the Nashville Predators and will look to bring a similar level of offense to today’s tilt against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks.

The Golden Knights have 15 games remaining in the regular season, only six of which will take place at T-Mobile Arena. Five of their six wins in March have come on home ice, so today’s game is another must-win situation for a Vegas team fighting to stay in the race.

The outlook is not dire; not yet, at least. Vegas has a chance to make the playoffs, but the Golden Knights need to win games and will need some assistance from other teams. But winnable games like today’s simply cannot be wasted at this point of the season.

Evgenii Dadonov will play in his second game since his trade to Anaheim was voided; he scored a goal Thursday against the Predators and received a warm reception from the Vegas faithful. He has four goals and six points in his last three games and will look to extend his hot streak against the Hawks.

The Golden Knights (35-28-4) trail the Stars (36-24-3) by one point for the second wildcard seed, but Dallas has four games in hand. Vegas is running out of games, so the margin for error is virtually nonexistent.

That’s especially true against a non-playoff team like Chicago (24-32-9).

The Blackhawks won’t have Marc-Andre Fleury in net this time around, nor will they have former Golden Knights forward Ryan Carpenter, as both were moved at the trade deadline.

Chicago’s main trade, however, involved moving Brandon Hagel to Tampa Bay. One of the pieces in the return was forward Taylor Raddysh, who has two goals and four points in four games since joining the team.

Otherwise, it has been Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat leading the way. They both had a goal and an assist in the Hawks’ most recent game, a 4-3 shootout win against the Kings, who sit five points ahead of Vegas and have one game in hand.

Kane has 76 points in 61 games (21-55—76), while DeBrincat sits at a point-per game pace with 36 goals and 60 points in 60 games. Seth Jones is third in team scoring with 43 points in 61 contests.

The club ranks 16th on the power play (20.6 percent) and 23rd on the penalty kill (76.1 percent); Vegas, by contrast, is 22nd on the power play (19.3 percent) and 18th on the penalty kill (78.5 percent).

The Golden Knights went 3-for-5 on the power play against Nashville, with Dadonov, Jack Eichel, Jonathan Marchessault and Chandler Stephenson teaming up for nine points on the three tallies.

In six wins in March, the Golden Knights have gone a combined 6-for-17 on the power play, which comes out to a 35.3 percent efficacy rate. In eight losses, that number has plummeted to 12.5 percent (3-for-24).

Power-play production has been a significant component of Vegas’ success this month.

The penalty kill has been less predictive, though; in fact, Vegas killed just eight of 13 penalties in the six wins (61.5 percent) but gave up five goals on 22 opportunities (or 77.3 percent) in the eight losses.

Chicago ranks 10th in shots against per game (32.4). The Golden Knights have more losses when outshooting their opponents than any other team in the league; in fact, they are 22-19-2 when firing more rubber at the opposing team’s net. They will look to achieve a happy medium but have to take advantage of early opportunities, something that has plagued them for months.

In the crease

Colin Delia made 43 saves the other night against Los Angeles; he is 1-1-0 with a 3.87 goals-against average and .897 save percentage. Kevin Lankinen is 4-8-4 with a 3.42 goals-against average and .891 save percentage.

Logan Thompson likely will get the nod once again for the Golden Knights; he is 4-4-0 with a 2.77 goals-against average and .918 save percentage. He stopped 35 of 36 shots against the Predators.

News and notes

  • Brett Howden will be out for a while after his scary collision in the first period against Nashville; the injury was “as good of a result as you can ask for out of something like that,” according to Pete DeBoer.
  • Nolan Patrick’s status is uncertain; Michael Amadio and Zach Whitecloud have been in COVID protocol but theoretically could be available for today’s game.
  • Max Pacioretty will be unavailable for the “near future,” according to DeBoer.
  • Reilly Smith has been moved to long-term injured reserve.
  • Zack Hayes and Pavel Dorofeyev (despite getting called up earlier in the day) were both reassigned to Henderson on Friday.

Projected lineups

Vegas

Dadonov — Eichel — Nicolas Roy
Marchessault — William Karlsson — Keegan Kolesar
William Carrier — Stephenson — Mattias Janmark
Jonas Rondbjerg — Jake Leschyshyn — Michael Amadio

Shea Theodore — Dylan Coghlan
Ben Hutton — Alex Pietrangelo
Alec Martinez — Zach Whitecloud

Thompson
Jiri Patera

Chicago

DeBrincat — Dylan Strome — Kane
Dominik Kubalik — Jonathan Toews — Raddysh
Henrik Borgstrom — Kirby Dach — Sam Lafferty
Boris Katchouk — Reese Johnson — MacKenzie Entwistle

Calvin de Haan — Seth Jones
Jake McCabe — Caleb Jones
Riley Stillman — Erik Gustafsson

Lankinen
Delia


How to watch

Time: Noon

TV: ABC, ESPN+

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM