Preview: Golden Knights and Kraken battle in regular-season finale

Preview: Golden Knights and Kraken battle in regular-season finale

The Vegas Golden Knights and Seattle Kraken will go head-to-head tonight for the second time this week and fourth time this year in the final game of the 2022-23 regular season.

The Golden Knights defeated the Kraken 4-1 Tuesday night in Vegas, taking a 2-1-0 lead in the season series. Vegas holds a 6-1-0 all-time record against the second-year expansion franchise.

Second line shines as Golden Knights defeat Kraken 4-1 for 50th win of season
The Vegas Golden Knights picked up win No. 50 on the season with a 4-1 victory against the Seattle Kraken Tuesday night at T-Mobile Arena. Michael Amadio scored twice as he, Reilly Smith and William Karlsson combined for three goals and eight points, giving Vegas a 3-1 lead after two

Seattle has been significantly better on the road this season, going 26-11-4 compared to 20-16-4 at home. The Golden Knights are third in the NHL with 25 road wins, trailing only Boston (30) and New Jersey (27). Vegas will look to improve on its 25-7-8 record away from T-Mobile Arena before returning home for the first two games of round one.

Round 1 matchup scenarios

Vegas (50-22-9) sits atop the Pacific Division and Western Conference with 109 points through 81 games, while Seattle currently occupies the first wildcard seed with 100 (46-27-8).

The Golden Knights need just one point to clinch the Western Conference as well as their third division title in six seasons. It also would set a franchise record for the most points in a season, as Vegas finished the inaugural campaign with 109.

If the Golden Knights lose in regulation AND the Oilers defeat the Sharks in any fashion, the two clubs both will finish with 109 points; since Edmonton holds the tiebreaker, that would result in the Oilers winning the division, leaving Vegas in second place in the Pacific and a first-round matchup against Los Angeles.

So while tonight's game isn't technically essential, it's a critical opportunity for Vegas to secure home-ice in the later rounds as it tries to return to the Stanley Cup for the first time since 2018.

For the Kraken, a win of any kind along with a regulation loss for Los Angeles would vault Seattle into the third seed in the Pacific Division, dropping the Kings to the first wildcard slot.

As the first wildcard, Seattle would face the winner of the Central Division, which will come down to Dallas and Colorado. The Stars have a one-point lead over the Avalanche, who have a game in hand. If the two teams finish tied, Dallas owns the tiebreaker.

However, if Seattle moves up to the third seed in the Pacific, that would mean a first-round meeting against Vegas or Edmonton. The Oilers can only clinch the top seed with a win against San Jose and a Vegas regulation loss.

The only scenario in which Vegas and Seattle meet in the first round is if Vegas and Los Angeles lose in regulation and Edmonton beats San Jose. In that case, Vegas and Edmonton would both finish with 109 points (the Oilers own the tiebreaker) and Los Angeles and Seattle would both finish with 102 (the Kraken own the tiebreaker).

Goalie matchup


Laurent Brossoit: Bruce Cassidy named Brossoit as the likely starter for tonight's game, which also indicates he's the likely starter for Game 1. Brossoit was in net the other night and turned aside 21 of 22 shots; it was a relatively light workload, as Vegas was dominant defensively. However, things should be different tonight against a rested Kraken club that will wrap up a very successful turnaround campaign ahead of its first playoff appearance. Brossoit has yet to lose in regulation; he is 6-0-3 with a 2.29 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.

If Jonathan Quick gets the nod, it will be his 10th start since coming to the Golden Knights at the trade deadline. It has been an up-and-down stretch for Quick, who started out hot after first arriving but has since faltered in a few rough outings. However, Quick is coming off a solid 24-save effort against the Stars; though he didn't get the win, he gave up just one goal in regulation and one goal in the shootout. It was just the second time in his nine starts that he gave up fewer than three goals, but it was a tightly-checked game against a difficult opponent. Quick is 5-2-2 with a 3.13 goals-against average and .901 save percentage to go along with one shutout in 10 games with Vegas this season. Quick is 1-1-0 with a 4.63 goals-against average and .853 save percentage in three career games against the Kraken. Those numbers are particularly cringe-worthy, though he has yet to face them in a Golden Knights sweater. Even so, expect Brossoit to man the crease.


Philipp Grubauer/Martin Jones: Joey Daccord was between the pipes for Seattle on Tuesday, but one would expect Dave Hakstol to go back to the tandem of Grubauer and Jones, who started a combined 77 of 81 games this season. Grubauer is the likely starter for the playoffs, so it's possible it'll be Jones tonight (assuming he is healthy). Jones is 27-13-3 with a 2.99 goals-against average, .887 save percentage and three shutouts in 42 starts this season but has an all-time record of 3-6-1 with a 3.88 goals-against average and .882 save percentage against the Golden Knights. Grubauer is 7-6-1 all-time against Vegas, sporting a 2.25 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. He is 17-13-4 with a 2.87 goals-against average and .895 save percentage in 35 starts this year.

Team comparison

Players to watch

Chandler Stephenson: Stephenson's speed, vision and playmaking ability make him a threat every time he steps on the ice, and he has been one of the more pivotal difference-makers for the Golden Knights over the last few seasons.  He will have a chance to take over the team lead in scoring tonight, as he sits one point behind Jack Eichel with 64 points in 80 games. Stephenson recorded a career-high 64 points last year, which means he's also one point away from setting a new personal best. It says a lot about his value to this team considering he has had some difficult stretches this season. Stephenson enters tonight's game with points in six out of his last seven games (two goals and nine points).

Jared McCann: No one on the Kraken had a particularly memorable performance in Tuesday's matchup. Yanni Gourde scored a goal on a nice shot off a turnover, but aside from an eight-minute stretch in the first period, Vegas was dominant all night and suffocated the Kraken in the second and third periods. Seattle, typically an up-tempo and hard-working team, was playing in the second half of a back-to-back, and it showed. That being said, the hottest player on either team is McCann, who has points in five out of his last six games; he scored five goals and 10 points during a five-game point streak prior to Tuesday's loss. He has a career-best 40 goals on the season and has three multi-point performances in his last four games.

Keys to the game

Light it up

The Golden Knights have scored first in four out of six games in April, going 3-0-1 in those four contests. Vegas scored first in 12 out of 15 games in March and went on to win 11 of 12 of them, with the lone exception being the 7-4 blowout loss to the Oilers. Vegas is fourth in the NHL in wins when scoring first with 37 and has gone 37-5-3 when taking a 1-0 lead. That comes out to an .822 win percentage, which is second in the NHL behind only the record-setting Boston Bruins. That goes up to .826 when on the road (19-2-2). Clearly, having a lead rather than chasing the game has been key for the Golden Knights all season, and it's no exception tonight.

Creatures of habit

The Golden Knights took two penalties Tuesday against Seattle and were able to kill off both. However, with just one game standing between Vegas and its fifth postseason appearance in six seasons, it's essential to continue to maintain good habits, including playing with discipline. The Kraken don't have a lethal power play, but the Golden Knights are 0-1-2 in their last three games when they've had to kill off three or more penalties. Regardless of the outcome of tonight's tilt, the Golden Knights will look to continue to take care of all the little details that lead to success, and that includes staying out of the box.

Say NO! to injuries

The Golden Knights have seven players out of the lineup and cannot afford to suffer any more injuries ahead of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Zach Whitecloud is the latest addition to the list; he joins defenseman Shea Theodore, forwards Jack Eichel, Mark Stone and William Carrier and goaltenders Logan Thompson and Adin Hill.

Cassidy ruled Whitecloud out of tonight's game when he spoke prior to Tuesday's contest, though he is hopeful Whitecloud will be ready for the start of the playoffs. The status of the other injured players is less clear, though most are skating, and Stone has been practicing with the team in a blue non-contact sweater.

Eichel and Theodore are traveling with the team to Seattle, though their availability is unknown.

This will be Whitecloud's second game out of the lineup. Theodore was injured March 28 and has missed the last seven games, while Stone has been out of commission since departing Vegas' Jan. 12 contest against Florida. Eichel has missed the last two games, Carrier has missed 19 and Thompson and Hill have missed nine and 17, respectively. Thompson has missed 27 games over the last two-plus months.

That's the point

The Golden Knights need just one point to clinch the Western Conference, which would lead to a first-round matchup against the Winnipeg Jets, against whom Vegas has gone 3-0-0 this season.

It would mark the third division title for Vegas in six seasons and first since 2019-20 when Vegas had 39 wins and 86 points in a 71-game campaign. This does not include the COVID-shortened 2020-21 campaign in which Vegas and Colorado both finished with 82 points; the Avalanche owned the tiebreaker and therefore were crowned division champs, but barring that tiebreaker, Vegas would be vying for its fourth title in six years.

Coming away with that all-important point tonight also would set a franchise record for most points in a season.

Projected lineups

UPDATE: Jack Eichel and Shea Theodore return to the lineup; Brett Howden will not play due to personal reasons.

Golden Knights

Pavel Dorofeyev – Jack Eichel – Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith – William Karlsson – Michael Amadio
Ivan Barbashev – Chandler Stephenson – Phil Kessel
Teddy Blueger – Nicolas Roy -- Keegan Kolesar

Alec Martinez – Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb – Shea Theodore
Ben Hutton – Nicolas Hague

Laurent Brossoit
Jonathan Quick


Jared McCann – Matty Beniers – Jordan Eberle
Jaden Schwartz – Alex Wennberg – Daniel Sprong
Eeli Tolvanen – Yanni Gourde – Oliver Bjorkstrand
Brandon Tanev – Ryan Donato – Jesper Froden

Vince Dunn – Adam Larsson
Jamie Oleksiak – Will Borgen
Carson Soucy – Justin Schultz

Martin Jones
Philipp Grubauer

How to watch

Game 82: Golden Knights vs. Kraken
When: 7:30 p.m. PT
Where: Climate Pledge Arena – Seattle, WA
Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM