Preview: Injured Golden Knights hit the road to wrap up season series against Jets

The Golden Knights won the first two meetings and are 5-6-2 all-time.

The Vegas Golden Knights (20-9-1) will take on the Winnipeg Jets (18-8-1) for the third and final time during the 2022-23 regular season when these teams square off tonight at Canada Life Centre.

The Golden Knights have an all-time record of 5-6-2 against the Jets but won both of the previous meetings this season, one of which was particularly memorable.

The Oct. 30 game went to overtime after Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck stood on his head all night. But with 19 seconds remaining, Jack Eichel put on a show.

It was one of the most thrilling finishes in Golden Knights history as Eichel skated around the zone, drove to the net and deked around Hellebuyck before tapping home the game-winner.

From the recap:

The Golden Knights were absolutely dominant in the first two periods, outshooting Winnipeg 33-8 and leading 52-27 in shot attempts and 21-4 in high-danger chances (16-4 at 5-on-5).

When all was said and done, Vegas led 48-24 in shots, 78-57 in shot attempts, 48-25 in scoring chances and 28-9 in high-danger chances. The Golden Knights had a 75.35 percent expected goal share at 5-on-5.

It was a 60-minute team-wide effort by Vegas, though it was the second straight game in which the Misfit Line shined. The trio had 19 shot attempts, 14 shots and six high-danger chances, finishing the game with a 70.37 percent Corsi share and 70.49 percent expected goal share.

The Golden Knights are going to need a similar effort from the Misfit Line tonight as the team reels from multiple injuries to key players.

Vegas will be without Alex Pietrangelo, Eichel, Zach Whitecloud and likely Shea Theodore.

Pietrangelo remains away from the team indefinitely due to an illness in his family, while the other three players have leg injuries sustained in the last 10 days.

The Golden Knights lost key defensemen in back-to-back games, as Theodore went down Dec. 9 against Philadelphia and Whitecloud followed suit Dec. 11 against Boston.

Eichel was injured Dec. 3, missed two games, returned for one and then missed Vegas’ most recent game, a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.

The Golden Knights placed Whitecloud on long-term injured reserve yesterday, according to CapFriendly. The LTIR designation means he will miss at least 10 games and won’t be eligible to return until Jan. 5 against Pittsburgh.

Golden Knights place Whitecloud on LTIR, Eichel on IR as injuries mount

Eichel was put on injured reserve (retroactive to Dec. 9), which will keep him out of the lineup for at least the next two games.

Theodore remains on the active roster and is considered day-to-day.

Pietrangelo, Theodore and Whitecloud made up the entire right side of Vegas’ blue line. The club recalled two right-shot defensemen — Brayden Pachal and Kaedan Korczak — from the Henderson Silver Knights to help. The Golden Knights also brought up forward Jonas Rondbjerg.

As for tonight’s matchup, the Golden Knights will be facing a very different Jets team than the one they beat twice in October.

Since the Oct. 30 overtime loss to Vegas, Winnipeg has been on a tear, going 9-3-0 in November and 4-2-0 thus far in December. The Jets are 7-3-0 in their last 10 games and are 10-4-0 on home ice this season. The club recently won four in a row but is coming off a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Washington Capitals.

Despite all the offensive firepower, defenseman Josh Morrissey leads the team in scoring with 31 points in 27 games; he enters tonight’s contest in the midst of a five-game point streak and has recorded at least one point in 10 out of his last 11 games.

Pierre-Luc DuBois and Kyle Connor each have 29 points, Blake Wheeler has 25 and Mark Scheifele has 23. Scheifele leads the way with 15 goals, while Morrissey, DuBois and Connor are all tied for first on the team with 11 power-play points.

The Golden Knights also have five players with at least 20 points: Eichel (29), Chandler Stephenson (23), Jonathan Marchessault (22), Mark Stone (22) and Theodore (22). Eichel and Marchessault each have a team-high eight points on the man-advantage.

The Golden Knights and Jets have similar numbers on the power play, as the Jets rank 15th (22.7 percent) and Vegas is right behind with a 22.1 percent efficacy rate (17th).

It is the penalty kill where these two teams differ greatly, though. The Jets have the fourth-best penalty kill in the NHL, operating at 83.6 percent, while the Golden Knights rank 25th (74 percent).

Vegas went a combined 0-for-6 on the power play and 2-for-2 in the previous two meetings this season.

Hellebuyck recently won six consecutive starts prior to Sunday’s loss to Washington. He made 46 saves on 48 shots when these teams met Oct. 30, finishing the game with a .958 save percentage. Since that game, he has gone 10-4-0.

Adin Hill got both starts against Winnipeg back in October (a 5-2 win on Oct. 20 and a 2-1 overtime win on Oct. 30), stopping a combined 49 of 52 shots. He has won his last two starts after dropping three straight (0-2-1) in November.

Logan Thompson has lost two straight, but both games were at home, where he got a combined two goals of goal support. However, he is 8-2-0 on the road this season (Hill is 4-0-1).

Regardless of who mans the crease, the Golden Knights will have their hands full. But being on the road is the best thing for the Golden Knights right now, as Vegas is 8-7-0 at home but 12-2-1 away from T-Mobile Arena.

The Golden Knights need to play a hard-fought road game tonight. Keeping things simple, staying out of the box and proper zone exits will be three keys to the game.

Projected lineups

Golden Knights*
Paul Cotter — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone
Jonathan Marchessault — William Karlsson — Reilly Smith
Jonas Rondbjerg — Jake Leschyshyn — Phil Kessel
William Carrier — Nicolas Roy — Keegan Kolesar

Alec Martinez — Nicolas Hague
Brayden McNabb — Daniil Miromanov
Ben Hutton — Pachal/Korczak

Adin Hill
Logan Thompson

*Subject to change

Cole Perfetti — Mark Scheifele — Blake Wheeler
Kyle Connor — Pierre-Luc DuBois — Michael Eyssimont
Morgan Barron — Adam Lowry — Jansen Harkins
Axel Jonsson-Fjallby — David Gustafsson — Sam Gagner

Josh Morrissey — Dylan DeMelo
Brenden Dillon — Neal Pionk
Dylan Samberg — Nate Schmidt

Connor Hellebuyck
David Rittich