The Vegas Golden Knights, after a tough loss, will look for redemption against the Dallas Stars, who are on a winning streak. If this sounds familiar, it’s because both teams are in the exact position they were in last time they met. Vegas’ loss is one of one, instead of two, this time around, however, and Dallas’s win streak is three games instead of six.
Still, that 4-2 defeat on Nov. 25 could weigh heavily on Vegas’s (16-13-5) mind. They ran into a red hot goaltender — Ben Bishop made 26 saves on 28 shots that night, for a .928 save percentage — and John Klingberg and Alex Radulov both scored three points, while Tyler Seguin scored two. If Vegas isn’t careful, those three players could exploit their weaknesses again, as Radulov and Seguin remain two of the Stars’ leading scorers.
While he didn’t factor in on the scoreboard in the last game, the Stars also have a great young defender in Miro Heiskanen and Jamie Benn has finally found his scoring ways this season and is now at 15 points. The Stars have one of the best goaltending tandems in the league in Bishop and Anton Khudobin as well, as Bishop has a .932 save percentage this season and Khudobin has a .922.
The Golden Knights are 4-1-0 in second games of back-to-backs this season, so if you’re looking for good news, there’s that.
Special teams matchup
Two of the best penalty kills in the NHL so far this season will meet up in this game. The Golden Knights’ shorthanded team has killed 83.6 percent of their penalties, eighth best in the league. Dallas’s penalty kill has an 85 percent kill rate, tied for fourth. While that could mean great defensive hockey, it’s bad news for the Golden Knights.
See, Vegas is 11-5-1 when scoring on the power play. When they fail to, they’re 5-8-4. That includes the loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday when they went 0-for-3. If they want to stand a better chance of beating Dallas, the Golden Knights will need at least one tally from their man-advantage units.
More bad news: the Golden Knights failed to score on the power play the last time these two teams met. The Stars scored twice on their power plays. If Vegas can flip those results, they’ll stand a much better chance at getting another tally in the win column.
Can Subban return to excellence
Malcolm Subban, barring some ridiculousness, will take the net for the first time since Marc-Andre Fleury came back from being with his family, and he’ll do so after his worst game in his brief run as the Golden Knights’ starter. Against the New York Rangers, Subban made just 25 saves on 30 shots, a .800 save percentage.
That’s perhaps not his fault, however. Subban has started less than 20 games in both of his seasons with the Golden Knights before this one, and he had a run of seven starts in a row. That’s the longest stretch of games Subban has played in a row in his career.
With a bit of rest since his last start (Dec. 8), it’s up to Subban if he can return to his more excellent starts, when he had a .923 save percentage in six starts before the game against the Rangers. If so, Vegas could get another advantage from a backup who’s been used better recently.
Under-performing defensive stars
It’s fair to say there was a fair bit of expectations on both John Klingberg and Shea Theodore to start this season. Klingberg was a preseason favorite (for some) for the Norris trophy, after scoring 45 points last season in just 64 games and scoring 67 points the last time he played 82 games. Theodore did not enter with those same award expectations, but it was fair to believe he’d grow on a 37-point performance in 79 games last year.
Both aren’t living up to the hype so far this season. Klingberg has just 10 points in 26 games so far this season, a .38 points-per-game pace. That’s quite a ways from his .70 points-per-game pace last season, and he’s on pace for only 29 points in 76 games. Theodore is also on pace for 29 points (his .35 points-per-game pace is below his .47 points-per-game pace from last year), albeit in 82 games.
The good news (or bad news) is that both of these defensemen scored in the last matchup between these two teams. While Klingberg had three assists, Theodore had a goal. The Golden Knights would likely prefer that Theodore be the one who scored three points this time.
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone
William Carrier — Paul Stastny — Alex Tuch
Valentin Zykov — Tomas Nosek — Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb — Nate Schmidt
Nicolas Hague — Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill — Nick Holden
Jamie Benn — Tyler Seguin — Mattias Janmark
Joe Pavelski — Roope Hintz — Alexander Radulov
Andrew Cogliano — Radek Faksa — Blake Comeau
Denis Gurianov — Jason Dickinson — Corey Perry
Esa Lindell — John Klingberg
Jamie Oleksiak — Miro Heiskanen
Andrej Sekera — Roman Polak
How to watch
Time: 5 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NHL.TV, ESPN+
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM