Gameday: Golden Knights aim to win third straight against Wild
Vegas tries to stay hot, but it faces a team it doesn’t have much success against.
The Vegas Golden Knights have played the Minnesota Wild three times at T-Mobile Arena.
You probably know the record.
Three games, three losses for Vegas at home to the team that resides in the State of Hockey. The Golden Knights and Wild will meet for the first time this season with both teams coming in hot.
Both clubs are 7-2-1 in their past 10 games; the Golden Knights have won consecutive games (3-2 in OT against Dallas and 6-3 on Sunday against Vancouver), and are one point behind the Arizona Coyotes and Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.
The Wild are coming off a 5-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, but have climbed back from standings purgatory to be within three points of the second wild card in the Western Conference.
Here’s what to watch for.
Max Pacioretty is on fire
It’s not ridiculous to think Pacioretty is the best skater on the Golden Knights this season. After he tallied eight points in four games last week, Pacioretty was named the NHL’s first star of the week. Vegas won three of those four games.
Pacioretty had his first four-point game as a Golden Knights player Sunday, scoring twice and recording two helpers. He’s provided offense at the right time.
More importantly, Pacioretty’s offensive resurgence has come on the makeshift second line with Chandler Stephenson centering with him and Mark Stone. Stephenson is on a three-game point streak, and Stone has a point in four straight.
That second line, whether by design or not, has performed well as of late. Don’t be mistaken: Pacioretty has been the constant with his team-leading 15 goals and 34 points. He’s on pace for a career-best 78 points as we near the halfway mark.
Right now, he’s worth more than $7 million per year.
Is the third line primed for a breakthrough?
Per Natural Stat Trick, the Paul Stastny line on Sunday was the best on the ice per Corsi (17/7, 70.83 percent). It was a stellar possession night for Valentin Zykov, who played his best game as a Golden Knights skater. He scored a power play goal Sunday, while Alex Tuch did not have a point.
It’s a makeshift third line until Cody Glass (or Cody Eakin) returns, but this trio has been solid in the few games put together since Zykov returned to the team four games ago. Sunday showed they’re getting the right looks, but nothing has come to fruition.
That’s the motto for this line over the past two-plus seasons.
The top six has delivered per usual. If the Golden Knights want to get a win against the Wild in their barn, it needs a point or two at 5-on-5 to make a difference.
Also, the Golden Knights are 7-4-0 with Zykov in the lineup this season. What is life?
Thoughts on the Wild
- Jason Zucker, a Las Vegas native, loves playing the Golden Knights./
The longtime Wild veteran has five points (one goal, four assists) in six games against Vegas. He comes into this game with seven points (3G, 4A) in the past six games overall. Likely not the guy you want to get going.
- Alex Stalock is expected to start tonight in net, but the bigger news is that Devan Dubnyk is expected to dress for the first time since Nov. 16. Dubnyk has been on personal leave to tend to his wife and has been away for the past 14 games. Minnesota has gone 9-2-3 in that stretch.
- Minnesota is one of three teams to have not lost at T-Mobile Arena, joining the Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers. That’s still odd./
How to watch
Time: 7 p.m.
TV: AT&T SportsNet, NHL.TV
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM