The Vegas Golden Knights will kick off a three-game homestand when they host the Anaheim Ducks Sunday at T-Mobile Arena.
Vegas is coming off back-to-back dominant 5-1 wins against the Predators and Wild. Nine different players lit the lamp, Jack Eichel and Reilly Smith broke through after extended scoring slumps and the team was able to take advantage of opportunities while benefiting from favorable bounces.
However, the Golden Knights suffered a significant injury when Logan Thompson’s leg appeared to get twisted early in the third period. He had to be helped off the ice and could not put any weight on it, though Bruce Cassidy said after the game that Thompson was “moving around” the locker room.
The team announced Saturday that Thompson is considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury, which prompted the recall of Laurent Brossoit from the AHL.
While Thompson is out, Adin Hill will take over as Vegas’ starter. He is 11-5-1 with a 2.58 goals-against average and .909 save percentage this season.
That being said, his worst game of the year came against the Ducks. He allowed two soft goals on five shots and got pulled early in the contest back in late December; at the time, it was the first goalie change of the season for Vegas.
Since then, Hill has gone 3-2-0 with a 2.16 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
Anaheim is 1-1-1 following the break and currently sits in eighth place in the Pacific Division with 40 points. The Golden Knights sit atop the standings in points (66) and points percentage (.623), though there are three teams within one point (Seattle has a game in hand) and four teams knocking on the door.
Every point counts.
Vegas will look to extend its winning streak to three games after losing four straight and seven of eight before the All-Star break. The Golden Knights are playing with urgency and managing the puck well; they will need to do so today against a skilled Anaheim offense, especially since goaltender John Gibson made 49 saves the last time these teams met (a 3-2 shootout win for Anaheim).
The Golden Knights are 1-0-1 against the Ducks so far this season and hold a 21-4-1 record in the all-time series. The Ducks are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games; the Golden Knights are 3-5-2.
Though today’s matchup between Pacific Division opponents pits the first-place Golden Knights against the eighth-place Anaheim Ducks, the Golden Knights can’t take their foot off the gas. That’s particularly true since the Golden Knights have struggled at home all season.
Vegas is barely above .500 on home ice (14-13-0) but is 17-5-4 on the road. Puck management will be key, and the Golden Knights will have to make the most of their chances against a stingy netminder. But scoring first — like they did against Minnesota — could go a long way.
Vegas is 22-4-0 when scoring first. The four times scoring first didn’t result in a win were as follows:
- Oct. 18 at Calgary: Vegas took six penalties in the second period (3-2 loss).
- Nov. 15 vs. San Jose: Vegas gave up four goals in the third period (5-2 loss).
- Dec. 1 at Pittsburgh: Vegas gave up 47 shots and two quick goals in the third (4-3 loss).
- Dec. 11 vs. Boston: Vegas was without Eichel, Alex Pietrangelo and Shea Theodore, and Zach Whitecloud was injured in the third period. At the time, the Golden Knights had scored five goals in its last seven home games (3-1 loss).
Vegas has won six straight when scoring first; given the team’s consistency issues at home, taking an early lead should help restore some much-needed confidence.
Paul Cotter — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Michael Amadio
William Carrier — Chandler Stephenson — Phil Kessel
Brett Howden — Nicolas Roy — Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud
Adam Henrique — Trevor Zegras — Ryan Strome
Frank Vatrano — Mason McTavish — Max Jones
Max Comtois — Isac Lundestrom — Jakob Silfverberg
Derek Grant — Jayson Megna — Brett Leason
Cam Fowler — Dmitry Kulikov
Colton White — John Klingberg
Simon Benoit — Kevin Shattenkirk
Olle Eriksson Ek