Preview: Golden Knights look to get back in win column as they wrap up season series against Lightning
Vegas is 6-3-0 in the all-time matchup against Tampa Bay.
The Vegas Golden Knights got off to a rough start on their five-game road trip but will look to regroup and come out on top when they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning this afternoon at Amalie Arena.
Vegas is coming off a 2-1 loss to the Florida Panthers for just its second regulation loss since the All-Star break. Notably, it was Vegas’ first regulation loss of the year in which the Golden Knights surrendered two or fewer goals (24-1-1).
Golden Knights end three-game winning streak in 2-1 loss to Panthers
The Golden Knights were victorious in their previous meeting against Tampa Bay, a 5-4 win in Vegas on Feb. 18. It was the game in which Vegas delivered a spectacular defensive effort in the third period, shutting down a hot Tampa offense to hold on for the 5-4 win.
The two clubs combined for six goals in the opening frame as the Golden Knights secured their fifth consecutive win coming out of the All-Star break. Since that game, Vegas has gone 4-2-2.
The Lightning have gone 3-4-2 but are coming off a 5-2 win against Philadelphia, which snapped a five-game losing skid (0-4-1). Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn both recorded three points in the win, which came one game after suffering a 6-0 loss to Carolina and two games after head coach Jon Cooper benched his star players for the entire third period of a 5-3 loss to Buffalo.
Needless to say, Tuesday’s win against the Flyers was a turnaround performance that will leave the Lightning feeling confident ahead of today’s tilt against Vegas. Tampa Bay went 3-for-6 on the power play against the Flyers and will look to continue that trend despite going 1-for-3 in the Feb. 18 meeting in Sin City.
The Golden Knights are 6-3-0 all-time against Tampa Bay. Shea Theodore, who has goals in back-to-back games and 12 points in his last 11 games, leads all Vegas skaters with three goals and 12 points in the all-time matchup. He had a game-high three points when these teams met last month.
The Lightning have the second-best power play in the league (26.2 percent) and rank 14th on the penalty kill (80.1 percent). Tampa Bay has averaged more goals per game than Vegas (3.48-3.13) but also has surrendered more per game (3.06-2.75).
The two clubs are separated by one point in the standings despite residing in different conferences; Tampa Bay trails Toronto by five points for second place in the Atlantic Division, while Vegas is tied with Los Angeles for the Pacific Division lead with 82 points (though Vegas has a game in hand).
That makes tonight’s contest particularly important for the Golden Knights, who cannot afford to leave points on the table given the tight playoff race.
Tampa Bay paid a heavy price at the trade deadline to acquire forward Tanner Jeannot from Nashville, sending defenseman Cal Foote as well as five draft picks in the deal, including a conditional 2025 first-round draft pick, a 2024 second-round pick and third-, fourth- and fifth-round selections in this year’s draft.
Jeannot, who had 14 points in 56 games with the Predators prior to the trade, is skating on the Lightning’s third line and has three assists and one shot in five games with his new club.
Kucherov leads the Lightning with 91 points, while linemate Brayden Point has a team-high 39 goals. The Lightning have four 20-goal scorers (Point, Steven Stamkos, Kucherov and Brandon Hagel), while Killorn — like Jonathan Marchessault — sits at 19. Point is second on the team with 74 points, while Stamkos (65), Hagel (50) and Killorn (49) round out the top-5.
Tampa Bay recently loaded up offensively, moving Stamkos to the top line to play with Kucherov and Point. That will be a trio Vegas will need to contain, as the three players have a combined 230 points this season.
But the Lightning could be without former Norris Trophy winner Victor Hedman after he suffered a lower-body injury in Tampa’s lopsided loss to Carolina over the weekend. Hedman is not expected to miss extended time but was not in the lineup against Philadelphia.
Andrei Vasilevskiy is 29-16-3 with a 2.67 goals-against average, .916 save percentage and two shutouts. He is 3-4-2 with a 3.07 goals-against average and .903 save percentage all-time against the Golden Knights. Backup Brian Elliott is 9-5-2 with a 3.29 goals-against average, .894 save percentage and one shutout this season.
The carousel in Vegas’ net continues as Adin Hill was not at yesterday’s practice and may not be available for the game.
Bad news on the Adin Hill front as HSK goalie coach Fred Brathwaite is acting as the backup tonight. Thus, Jiri Patera is likely on his way to Tampa to backup for VGK tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/2FyuRgZU5D— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) March 9, 2023
That likely means Jonathan Quick will be manning the Vegas crease for the second time in his career. Quick is 7-6-3 all-time against the Lightning. With Los Angeles, Quick went 1-1-0 against Tampa Bay this season, posting a 3.57 goals-against average and .860 save percentage. He is 1-0-0 with Vegas after stopping 25 of 28 shots in a 4-3 win against Montreal.
Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Michael Amadio
Paul Cotter — Chandler Stephenson — Phil Kessel
Brett Howden — Teddy Blueger — Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud
Steven Stamkos — Brayden Point — Nikita Kucherov
Brandon Hagel — Anthony Cirelli — Alex Killorn
Ross Colton — Nick Paul — Tanner Jeannot
Patrick Maroon — Michael Eyssimont — Corey Perry
Mikhail Sergachev — Nicklaus Perbix
Ian Cole — Erik Cernak
Haydn Fleury — Zach Bogosian