Gameday: Mark Stone faces Senators for first time as Golden Knights try to get back on track
Tonight will be a reunion of sorts.
Although the Vegas Golden Knights got off to a hot start against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, an ugly second and third period cost the Golden Knights and ultimately led to their 5-2 loss.
Unfortunately, many of the same issues once again plagued the Golden Knights on Tuesday. However, perhaps the Ottawa Senators, who enter Thursday’s contest with a 1-4 record, are the perfect antidote for Vegas right now.
It’s also the first time Mark Stone will face the Senators after spending the first six seasons of his career in Ottawa, He was traded to Vegas on Feb. 25.
Before the puck drops at T-Mobile arena tonight, here are a couple things to watch for.
Survive the second period
For whatever reason the second period has been a nightmare for the Golden Knights recently. During their past five games Vegas has given up two goals against Boston in the second period, two goals against Arizona, two goals in 33 seconds against Calgary, and three goals against Nashville.
A lot of this has to do with turnovers, which has become a common theme during this stretch, but it is a bit bizarre how things have regularly fallen apart in the second period recently.
The bottom of the lineup needs to be better
Vegas’ third pairing of Deryk Engelland and Nicolas Hague have had a rough start to the season, but they were slightly better against the Predators on Tuesday. The second pairing of Nick Holden and Jon Merrill were not good at all, though. The pair was outshot 11-8 during 5-on-5, allowed a goal and played without the puck a ton.
Aside from the pairing of Shea Theodore and Brayden McNabb, the Golden Knights’ blue line has been a work in progress without Nate Schmidt. Perhaps this is just a turbulent stretch and things will sort itself out, but it also might not hurt to mix the bottom two pairings up to see how Engelland and Holden look with a different partner.
The fourth line of William Carrier, Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves also had a rough night against the Predators, which was highlighted by this goal where Reaves is caught puck watching in the slot.
GOAL. Colton Sissons scores a greasy one to tie it. Just 44 seconds into the middle period. pic.twitter.com/k4ZtVjD7Hz— Knights On Ice (@knightsonice) October 16, 2019
Although they were on the ice for two goals, it seemed like just an off night for the fourth line and I would expect them to bounce back against the Senators.
This could be a prime chance for Brandon Pirri, as he gets into the lineup with Valentin Zykov now suspended for 20 games for violating the NHL’s Performance Enhancing Substances Program on Thursday.
Former Golden Knights prospect Erik Brannstrom returns to Vegas for the first time since being traded to the Ottawa Senators in February as part of the Mark Stone deal. For Brannstrom, this will be his first NHL regular season game in T-Mobile arena. So far this season the 20-year-old Swede has one assist in five games and has averaged 14:39 of ice time.
On the flip side, this could be a bit of an emotional night for Mark Stone as he plays his former team for the first time. Of course, it will be different when he returns to Ottawa, but I’m sure seeing some of his former friends and teammates will trigger some emotion.
If the way other Golden Knights’ players have played against their former team is any indication, Stone might be in for a big night tonight.
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN+, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM