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Preview: Golden Knights forge ahead without Mark Stone in home matchup against Oilers

The captain is considered week-to-week and has been ruled out for tonight.

Las Vegas Golden Knights v Edmonton Oilers Photo by Lawrence Scott/Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights will continue their seven-game homestand with a tilt against the Edmonton Oilers tonight at T-Mobile Arena.

Mark Stone is considered week-to-week and has been ruled out for tonight’s contest after suffering an upper-body injury in the first period of Thursday’s 4-2 win against Florida.

It was a big win for the Golden Knights, who played the majority of the game without the captain. Vegas scored three goals in the third period in a hard-fought win in response to a very disappointing and flat performance against Los Angeles.

Not having Stone in the mix is a major blow, especially to a team already dealing with multiple injuries. However, as was the case the other night against the Panthers, his absence gives other players a chance to shine.

On Thursday, it was the fourth line, Jack Eichel and Adin Hill. But with Stone sidelined, this is a chance for Eichel to take over and lead this team.

He has done so at times this season, and he was the one who led the comeback against the Panthers with a gorgeous goal 8:37 into the third period. Plus, he is producing at more than a point-per-game pace with 33 points in 30 games this season.

Chandler Stephenson was relatively quiet the other night but leads the team in scoring with 40 points in 43 games. Also, William Carrier — who scored the game-winner in the final three minutes of regulation — leads the team with five game-winning goals. That’s an unexpected statistic, but it points to how crucial the fourth line has been this season. The trio of Carrier, Keegan Kolesar and Nicolas Roy went through a cold stretch but was a key to Vegas’ success earlier in the season and was fantastic on Thursday.

Another key to Thursday’s win was clean breakouts out of the defensive zone in the third period. That will go a very long way tonight against a fast and skilled Oilers club.

But the Golden Knights need everyone to contribute if Vegas wants to improve its all-time record of 7-7-2 against Edmonton.

The Oilers are 3-2-1 in January and are coming off an impressive 7-1 win against the San Jose Sharks. Edmonton has won two games in a row while outscoring its opponents 13-3. While those opponents were Anaheim and San Jose, it’s still a sign that the Oilers’ offense is clicking once again.

Edmonton’s special teams had a strong performance last night, scoring twice on the power play and adding a shorthanded tally.

Given the amount of talent on the roster, it’s no surprise that the Oilers have the top power play in the league, operating at 31.5 percent. The penalty kill, however, leaves a lot to be desired; it currently ranks 24th (73.9 percent).

By contrast, Vegas is seventh on the power play (25.6 percent) and 16th on the penalty kill (78.6 percent). The Vegas penalty kill came up with a huge stop in the third period of Thursday’s game and will need to be stellar once again this evening.

Connor McDavid is having another epic season. He has a ridiculous 82 points in 44 games and leads the NHL in points as well as goals (37), assists (45) and power-play points (41). Leon Draisaitl is second in points (66) and power-play points (34) as the two continue to tear up the league.

With Stuart Skinner away from the team for the birth of his child, Jack Campbell could get the nod after going last night in San Jose. Campbell has struggled this season and lost the starter’s gig to Skinner but has started to turn things around. He is 11-8-1 with 3.45 goals-against average and .883 save percentage. If he is unable to play, Calvin Pickard will man the crease.

When these teams met earlier this season, the Golden Knights came away with a point but gave up a McDavid goal in overtime for the team’s third loss in four games at the time. It was just the second road loss of the season and marked the first time the Golden Knights scored three goals and lost.

Stone was responsible for two of those goals, including the game-tying tally midway through the third period that ultimately forced overtime.

He will be missed, but it’s time for Vegas to employ the “next man up” mentality and continue to collect points at a critical point in the season. The Kings are two points behind Vegas with an extra two games played, but Seattle is four points behind with two games in hand. Vegas can’t afford to start leaving points on the table.


Projected lineups

Vegas

The team has 11 active forwards on the roster, which likely means a call-up from Henderson is on the horizon. That could be Jonas Rondbjerg, though Bruce Cassidy could turn to fresh blood.

It’s unclear what Cassidy will do with the lines with Stone out of commission. The fourth line will remain intact given its exceptional play the other night, but the other three could go a number of ways.

Cassidy could move Eichel up to play with Stephenson and Michael Amadio, Paul Cotter or maybe Jonathan Marchessault.

However, it also would make sense to reunite the Misfit Line and keep Eichel and Stephenson together, giving Vegas three lines with some chemistry and/or offensive upside.

The lines could look something like this, but there may not be much clarity until pre-game line rushes:

Jonathan Marchessault — Jack Eichel — Chandler Stephenson
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Phil Kessel
Paul Cotter — Michael Amadio — Jonas Rondbjerg
William Carrier — Nicolas Roy — Keegan Kolesar

— OR —

Paul Cotter — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Phil Kessel
Michael Amadio — Chandler Stephenson — Jonas Rondbjerg
William Carrier — Nicolas Roy — Keegan Kolesar

Nicolas Hague — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Kaedan Korczak
Alec Martinez — Ben Hutton

Logan Thompson
Adin Hill

Edmonton

Dylan Holloway — Connor McDavid — Derek Ryan
Michael McLeod — Leon Draisaitl — Zach Hyman
Mattias Janmark — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins — Klim Kostin
Warren Foegele — Vincent Desharnais — Jesse Puljujarvi

Darnell Nurse — Cody Ceci
Brett Kulak — Tyson Barrie
Philip Broberg — Evan Bouchard

Jack Campbell
Calvin Pickard