Preview: Golden Knights head to Alberta for back-to-back set against Oilers, Flames

The games, originally scheduled for Jan. 14-15, were postponed due to COVID-19.

Golden Knights at Flames


The Vegas Golden Knights are coming off a 4-0 win against the Edmonton Oilers and will look to sweep the back-to-back set with a win tonight against the Calgary Flames.

Vegas has won three games in a row after securing the team’s second shutout of the season last night in Edmonton. Laurent Brossoit made 28 saves against his former team, which paves the way for a Robin Lehner start tonight at Scotiabank Saddledome.

The Knights hold a seven-point lead over Calgary in the standings, though the Flames have five games in hand.

The Flames are 23-13-6 and have won three in a row as well as five of their last six. That includes a 4-2 win against Arizona in which they recorded 50 shots, wrapping up a 6-2-0 stretch heading into the All-Star break.

These clubs met in early December, with Vegas coming away with a 3-2 win; it was one of the Knights’ best all-around games of the season and was the start of a four-game homestand that effectively turned the season around.

The Knights are 9-3-0 against the Flames over the last five seasons, in part thanks to William Karlsson’s 16 points, which includes six goals and 10 assists. Reilly Smith is second with 11 points, while Max Pacioretty has nine.

The Misfit Line had a particularly impressive game last night with a combined five points; Karlsson and Smith each scored a goal and an assist, and Jonathan Marchessault tallied an assist on Alex Pietrangelo’s 500th career point. Brett Howden also scored for the fourth game in a row, extending his point streak to five games.

Pacioretty and Mark Stone did not find the scoresheet last night but have averaged more than a point per game against Calgary since joining the Knights. Linemate Chandler Stephenson returned to the lineup last night, recording one hit, one shot and one block in 17:27.

Matthew Tkachuk leads all players on both teams with eight goals in the series, and he has 14 points in just 10 contests. Johnny Gaudreau has nine, and Mikael Backlund has eight.

The Flames’ top line of Tkachuk, Gaudreau and Elias Lindholm has chipped in a combined 136 points this season; Gaudreau has 54, Tkachuk has 45 and Lindholm has 37. Andrew Mangiapane was on a hot streak earlier in the season but has since cooled off; he and Tkachuk lead the team with 20 goals.

The Flames have gotten solid goaltending from their duo of Jacob Markstrom and Dan Vladar. The Flames play tomorrow night against Toronto, so it’s possible Vladar could be in net tonight. However, Markstrom is the more likely option since Calgary needs to make up ground in the Pacific Division standings.

Markstrom is 17-10-5 with a 2.20 goals-against average, .923 save percentage and a league-high seven shutouts (no other goalie has more than four).

He surrendered three goals on 28 shots for an .898 save percentage against Vegas earlier this season, while Lehner stopped 23 of 25 shots for a .920 save percentage and the win.

After starting the season 9-9-0, Lehner has gone 10-3-1 in his last 14 starts; he is 19-12-1 with a 2.76 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and one shutout in 33 starts.

Tonight, the Knights will go up against the 11th-ranked power play (22.1 percent) and an especially difficult penalty kill, which is operating at 84.3 percent efficacy this season (good for fourth overall in the NHL).

The Golden Knights rank 16th on both the power play (19.8 percent) and penalty kill (80 percent).

Vegas went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill last night, scoring the team’s league-leading eighth shorthanded goal in the process.

Calgary has averaged 3.19 goals per game while giving up just 2.48 goals against per game; only Carolina has averaged fewer goals against per game (2.41), making Calgary a very tough team to crack.

The Knights will need to clean up their game considerably tonight.

Projected lines

Gaudreau — Lindholm — Tkachuk
Mangiapane — Backlund — Coleman
Dube — Monahan — Ritchie
Lucic — Ruzicka — Lewis

Hanifin — Andersson
Kylington — Tanev
Zadorov — Gudbranson


How to watch

Golden Knights at Flames

Time: 6:30 p.m.

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM

The Vegas Golden Knights return from the All-Star break with some good news and some bad.

The good news — great, in fact — is that Jack Eichel is now taking full contact in practice, bringing him one significant step closer to making his Golden Knights debut (possibly later this month).

The bad news is that Zach Whitecloud is out with a broken foot; as added insurance, the Knights recalled Daniil Miromanov yesterday.

The Knights are coming off two consecutive wins against Tampa Bay and Buffalo and will look to extend that streak tonight in Edmonton and tomorrow in Calgary.

Despite an uninspiring effort by the Pacific Division team in Saturday’s All-Star Game, these Pacific squads will be going full steam ahead as they kick off the second half of their 2021-22 campaigns.

The Knights remain at the top of the Pacific Division standings with several teams knocking on the door. Los Angeles and Anaheim trail by two points, though Vegas has one and two games in hand, respectively; Edmonton has four games in hand and needs to bridge an eight-point gap.

The Oilers will look to do just that tonight as they host the Golden Knights at Rogers Place.

Golden Knights at Oilers

The Oilers appear to be on the good side of a very rough stretch, having won five of their last six (5-0-1) following a seven-game losing skid.

As usual, the Oilers are led by superstar centers Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who have a combined 123 points through 42 games this season.

The Knights are 6-6-1 all-time against the Oilers and dropped both previous meetings this season, losing 5-3 on Oct. 22 and 3-2 on Nov. 27.

Zach Hyman scored three goals in those two meetings, and Draisaitl scored twice in the first matchup.

The Knights held McDavid to two total assists but still came up empty both times; now that the Oilers’ offense is really warming up, a structured game will be critical for the Knights tonight.

Goaltending will be important as well.

Assuming Pete DeBoer splits the starts, it’s possible Laurent Brossoit could get the nod tonight, leaving Robin Lehner to patrol the crease tomorrow. Brossoit began his career in Edmonton, and Lehner was in net for both losses against Edmonton as well as for the win against Calgary.

However, it could go either way.

Brossoit has gotten just 12 starts this season but is a respectable 8-3-2 with 2.86 goals-against average; however, his .898 save percentage leaves a lot to be desired.

After starting the season 9-9-0, Lehner has gone 10-3-1 in his last 14 starts; he is 19-12-1 with a 2.76 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and one shutout in 33 starts.

Oilers netminder Mike Smith, who has missed the majority of the season with two long-term injuries, has been activated from injured reserve and is likely to start for Edmonton tonight. It is especially good timing for the Oilers considering Mikko Koskinen was placed in COVID protocol.

Smith has made just six starts this season and struggled in his most recent contests. He hasn’t won a game since Oct. 16 and is 2-2-1 with a 3.76 goals-against average and .898 save percentage on the year.

The Knights will look to test him early and often.

That’s especially true since the Oilers are 12-0-0 when scoring first and leading after the first period. That being said, Edmonton has given up the first goal in 12 of its last 14 games, a trend the Knights should aim to exploit.

Edmonton has had the worst penalty kill in the NHL since Dec. 5 and has killed just 35 of 55 of its last shorthanded opportunities; that’s good for 63.6 percent in that stretch, good for 32nd in the league, though the Oilers rank 21st on the year with a 77.4 percent efficacy.

The Oilers have the third-best power play in the NHL at 28.5 percent but that, too, has stalled in recent games. The Oilers have converted on just three of their last 24 (12.5 percent) attempts. But given the amount of lethal skill on that unit, Vegas has to avoid taking penalties at all costs.

It will be a little more difficult than usual considering how Vegas feels about Edmonton’s latest acquisition.

The Oilers made a big splash a few weeks ago by signing Evander Kane following his contract termination in San Jose. Kane has been effective thus far, scoring in his first game with Edmonton and collecting three points through three games.

He makes a dangerous Oilers offense even deeper, giving Edmonton three solid scoring lines with McDavid, Draisaitl and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on separate units.

McDavid leads the Oilers with 17 points in 12 career games against the Knights, while Draisaitl has 16 in 13.

For the Knights, the Misfit Line leads the way; Jonathan Marchessault has 11 points in 12 games against the Oilers, while William Karlsson and Reilly Smith each have nine.

Projected lines

Kane — McDavid — Yamamoto
McLeod — Draisaitl — Kassian
Hyman — Nugent-Hopkins — Puljujarvi
Foegele — Shore — Ryan

Nurse — Bouchard
Keith — Ceci
Lagesson — Barrie


How to watch

Golden Knights at Oilers

Time: 6 p.m.

TV: AT&T SportsNet

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM