The Vegas Golden Knights will look to get back in the win column when they host the Calgary Flames tonight at T-Mobile Arena (6 p.m. PT on ESPN).
The Golden Knights are coming off a 3-2 loss to Chicago in which they surrendered the game-tying goal with 55 seconds left in regulation and then went 0-for-3 in the shootout.
The Golden Knights need to put that performance behind them and get back to what was working so well for them coming out of the All-Star break, including an effective shot suppression system, clean exits, smart reads and capitalizing on chances. The Golden Knights won five games in a row by paying attention to the details and winning by committee, something they drifted from in Chicago.
Laurent Brossoit made his season debut in the loss, stopping 37 of 39 shots in his first NHL start in almost a year. But the Golden Knights didn’t reward him for his solid outing, instead failing to come away with two points against one of the worst teams in the NHL.
Tonight’s matchup will be more challenging, though the Golden Knights have never lost to the Flames on home ice.
Calgary is in the second half of a back-to-back after defeating Arizona 6-3 last night. The Flames dominated the Coyotes, outshooting them 51-14. Arizona scored three goals in the second period to take a 3-1 lead, but Calgary responded with five straight, including two in the second and three more in the third.
The Flames went 3-for-5 on the power play, though the club ranks 22nd in the NHL with a 20.1 percent efficiency rate. Vegas’ 2022-23 power play is slightly better, coming in at 19th with a 21 percent conversion rate; however, the Vegas power play has been a disaster of late.
In fact, the Golden Knights are 0-for-15 in February, 0-for-21 over the last nine games and just 3-for-37 in 2023. Vegas has had the worst power play in the NHL over the last two months with an 8.1 percent success rate and a net of just two goals on the man-advantage.
That is something Vegas must address sooner rather than later. The injury to Mark Stone has been detrimental to the team’s power-play production and overall efficacy, but a conversion rate of 8.1 percent goes beyond the loss of a star player. Jack Eichel and Co. need to find a way to push through the rust and end the skid. Vegas will have to go up against Calgary’s 11th-ranked penalty kill, which is operating at 81.3 percent (Vegas’ penalty kill is ranked 19th at 79 percent).
Since Dan Vladar manned the crease last night, Jacob Markstrom likely will get the nod for the Flames in tonight’s contest. Markstrom has had a very disappointing campaign following his Vezina-caliber season last year; he is 15-14-7 with a 2.93 goals-against average and .889 save percentage after going 37-15-9 with a 2.22 goals-against average, a .922 save percentage and a league-high nine shutouts in 2021-22.
The Golden Knights blew a two-goal lead and surrendered three unanswered goals in a 3-2 loss when these teams met in mid-October in what was Vegas’ fourth game of the season and first loss of the year.
Jonathan Huberdeau tallied two assists in that game, but things have not gone well for the 29-year-old, who has just 10 goals and 38 points in 55 games after racking up 30 goals and 115 points last year (and recording 61 points in 55 games the year before).
Tyler Toffoli leads the team with 24 goals and is tied with Elias Lindholm with a team-high 51 points. Nazem Kadri has 21 goals and 21 assists and is third on the club with 42 points, while Mikael Backlund is fourth in scoring with 39 points in 58 games (13-26—39).
Backlund has been surging in recent games; in fact, the Swedish center has goals in three straight, points in four straight and at least a point in eight out of his last nine games (4-8—12). He scored the game-winner against Vegas earlier this season and leads the Flames with 14 points in 15 career games against the Golden Knights.
Another player riding a hot streak is Dillon Dube, who is having a career season with 37 points. He is two goals shy of tying his career high of 18 and has four goals and 10 points in his last six games.
Vegas went 2-1-0 in the season series last year and is 10-5-0 in the all-time matchup. Home ice has been a key factor in the matchup, as the Flames are 0-7-0 and have been outscored 30-8 at T-Mobile Arena.
Calgary is 12-9-9 on the road this season and is 4-4-2 in its last 10 games. The Flames are in fifth place in the Pacific Division with 65 points in 58 games, trailing Vegas by eight points and sitting five points behind the third-place Seattle Kraken.
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
Dillon Dube — Elias Lindholm — Tyler Toffoli
Jakob Pelletier — Nazem Kadri — Jonathan Huberdeau
Andrew Mangiapane — Mikael Backlund — Blake Coleman
Milan Lucic — Trevor Lewis — Walker Duehr
Noah Hanifin — Rasmus Andersson
MacKenzie Weegar — Chris Tanev
Nikita Zadorov — Dennis Gilbert