Preview: Golden Knights take on Fleury, Wild in first half of home-and-home
The Vegas Golden Knights will host the Minnesota Wild tonight when they return to T-Mobile Arena after a disappointing 4-3 overtime loss to San Jose.
Marc-Andre Fleury will be in the crease for the Wild to take on his former team for the third time in the last few seasons. Fleury is 1-1-0 against Vegas, most recently surrendering five goals on 23 shots when these teams met in Minnesota in early February.
Fleury and the Wild have been on a tear of late, however. In fact, Minnesota lost just once in regulation in the month of March, going 10-1-3. The Wild have lost in regulation just once in their last 21 games and just twice since falling to Vegas 5-1 on Feb. 9. Since then, no team in the NHL has earned more points than Minnesota (39); Fleury has gone 8-1-1 in that stretch.
The Golden Knights have lost two straight for the first time since late February. Vegas suffered a 7-4 defeat at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers last Tuesday and followed it up with a flat 4-3 overtime loss against the Sharks.
The Golden Knights went 4-2-0 at home last month and are 22-15-1 at T-Mobile Arena this season.
Vegas won the previous meeting against Minnesota this season but is 8-11-1 all-time against the Wild.
Minnesota has been without star Kirill Kaprizov since March 8, making the club's recent run all the more impressive. Matt Boldy has been explosive in recent games, scoring two hat tricks in his last six games and recording a total of 11 goals and 15 points in his last 10 contests.
Since Kaprizov's injury, Boldy (15), Marcus Johansson (11), Ryan Hartman (10), Joel Eriksson Ek (10) and Frederick Gaudreau (8) have been the top-5 producers on the team.
But the Minnesota goaltending has been superb.
Fleury went 6-0-1 with a 2.56 goals-against average and .928 save percentage in March, while backup Filip Gustavsson went 4-1-2 with a 1.80 goals-against average, .944 save percentage and two shutouts.
Goaltending has not been an issue for the Golden Knights this season, though it has been less reliable in recent games.
Laurent Brossoit is 2-0-3 with a 2.69 goals-against average and .912 save percentage and has gotten his team to extra time in all five of his starts. Jonathan Quick started off strong but has struggled in his last few; he is 5-2-0 with a 3.53 goals-against average, .896 save percentage and one shutout.
In the last two losses, Brossoit and Quick have given up a combined 11 goals on 64 shots for an .828 save percentage and 5.46 goals-against average.
That is not going to get it done against a red-hot Wild team that has a chance to pull even with Vegas in the Western Conference standings tonight.
In fact, the standings have gotten much tighter over the last few games since Vegas has come away with one of a possible four points.
Minnesota trails Vegas by just two points, while Dallas and Los Angeles are behind by only three. Edmonton has two fewer points than Vegas but has a game in hand. If Vegas loses tonight, then the Oilers and Kings will sit two points back with only a handful of games remaining.
If Vegas isn't careful, the Golden Knights could find themselves facing Los Angeles or Edmonton in the first round instead of Seattle, Winnipeg, Calgary or Nashville.
Tonight's matchup is not only an important test for the Golden Knights but also a potential turning point in the season. Though Vegas has locked up a playoff spot, the points on the table tonight and in Monday's follow-up could prove to be the difference between a deep run and an early exit.
For tonight's tilt, Pavel Dorofeyev appears to be the odd man out. Reilly Smith will not return to the lineup but did participate in morning skate wearing a blue non-contact sweater, which is a positive sign for the Golden Knights.
Ivan Barbashev – Jack Eichel – Jonathan Marchessault
Paul Cotter – William Karlsson – Nicolas Roy
Michael Amadio – Chandler Stephenson – Phil Kessel
Brett Howden – Teddy Blueger – Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez – Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb – Ben Hutton
Nicolas Hague – Zach Whitecloud
Marcus Foligno – Ryan Hartman – Mats Zuccarello
Marcus Johansson – Joel Eriksson Ek – Matt Boldy
Sam Steel – Frederick Gaudreau – Oskar Sundqvist
Mason Shaw – Connor Dewar
Jake Middleton – Jared Spurgeon
Jonas Brodin – Matt Dumba
Jon Merrill – John Klingberg
How to watch
Game 76: Golden Knights vs. Wild
When: 7 p.m. PT
Where: T-Mobile Arena — Las Vegas, NV
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM