Gameday: Golden Knights host Predators in last game before All-Star Break

Vegas hosts an up-and-down Nashville in hopes of rebounding from a bad game against Minnesota.

The Vegas Golden Knights host another Central division foe after a rough encounter with the Minnesota Wild. Lucky for Vegas, the Nashville Predators are not the Wild, and Vegas has not struggled with the Predators like they have with the Wild. In fact, Vegas is 2-2-0 against the Predators, with an even goal differential.

The Predators have been up-and-down with a 2-3-1 record in their past six games. Partly to blame has been bad goaltending, with Pekka Rinne averaging a .900 save percentage over his last four starts and Jusse Saros being better at a .915 in three games.

Vegas is three points behind the San Jose Sharks with one game in hand and Nashville is two points behind the Winnipeg Jets with three more games played. Both teams are well within playoff standing, however.

Here’s what to watch for tonight.

Coming up empty

The Predators are zero for their last 24 power-play opportunities. This sounds a little familiar, as the Golden Knights had their own power-play struggles recently, which Colin Miller helped break the team out of.

There’s no Miller coming back for Nashville, however, and the Predators have sunk to the 29th best power play in the league. That’s good news for the Golden Knights,  who have killed nine of their last 11 penalties, and are fifth-best in the league while shorthanded.

Nashville has actually allowed more shorthanded goals (one) than they’ve scored on the power play in the last six games, which is great news for the Golden Knights, who have six shorthanded goals this season.

High-danger defense

The Golden Knights are 26-5-3 when winning or tying the high-danger goal contest at even strength so far this season. When losing, they are 3-13-1. To put into perspective how important defense has been to this, the Golden Knights are 23-6-2 when allowing zero to one high-danger goals.

Taking away the crease will be especially important in this game, and if the Golden Knights are able to return to their old ways (they’re averaging just 8.33 high-danger chances against per game, and have the seventh-fewest chances allowed so far this season), they’ll be better suited to taking down the Predators.

Again with the blue line

Minnesota was 15th in the league entering the game against Vegas in scoring from defensemen. They got two points, including a primary assist from Jared Spurgeon, from their blue line.

Nashville enters as the second-best scoring blue line, boasting members like Mattias Ekholm (six goals, 37 points), Roman Josi (8-28—36), Ryan Ellis (5-18—23), and PK Subban (who has been hurt for 19 games this season) is pulling up the rear with 4-14—18. You know your blue line is ridiculously stacked when a former Norris winner is last of your big four.

The Knights’ forwards will need to do a better job in this game of staying with their man and forcing the defensemen to make bad plays. Taking away the blue line will be a key factor to winning this game, and if Vegas’s wings can somehow do it, they’ll have much better chances.

How to watch

Time: 7 p.m.

TV: NBC Sports

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM