What to watch for as the Golden Knights take on the Hurricanes

Two underachieving, high-octane teams. This should be a fun one!

The Golden Knights and Carolina Hurricanes face off for the first time this season tonight, and both teams can really use a win right about now. The Golden Knights dropped their last two games on the road and return to T-Mobile Arena with a 5-7-1 record, sitting at seventh in the Pacific Division. Meanwhile, the 6-5-2 Carolina Hurricanes have lost three straight and will look to get things back on track in the desert. The Hurricanes and Golden Knights met twice last season, where the Knights lost one game in a shootout and won the other 5-1.

Two of the unluckiest teams in the NHL meet

You’ve probably heard this by now, but luck simply hasn’t been on the Golden Knights’ side so far this season. They sit 29th in the league in scoring, having scored just 30 times in 13 games. Despite being ranked so low in the goal department, the Golden Knights still rank near the top of nearly every advanced statistic when it comes to generating offense. Their 5-on-5 Corsi For percentage is at 58.79, which is second to only the Hurricanes, who are at 60.67. Essentially, both the Golden Knights and the Hurricanes are playing considerably well and getting pucks to the net, but the pucks just aren’t finding twine as much as they should be.

The Golden Knights have looked like last year’s team for the majority of their games, but too often they lose their footing for a full period and have to play catch-up the rest of the game.

“We have times in the game when we play the right way and other times when we don’t, and it ends up costing us big time,”  Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “We’re going to have to figure out how to play a full 60 minutes because right now, 40 is nowhere near close enough.”

Despite their recent losing streak, the Hurricanes pose a big challenge for the Golden Knights tonight. They’re generating shots at an absurd level, leading the league with 42.4 shots per game. They can go full-throttle in an instant, as we saw last night when they peppered the Arizona Coyotes with 24 shots and two goals in the third period in their 4-3 overtime loss. Despite the firepower, the Hurricanes have still lost six of their last eight games. Luckily for the Golden Knights, they’re catching the Hurricanes on a back-to-back at home, and did I mention yet that the Knights are 3-0 this season on games played on Saturday?

Just looking at this heat map from their game last night is a bit terrifying. I hope Fleury and all the defense had great sleeps last night because boy are they going to be busy tonight.

Players to watch

Scott Darling is projected to make his second start of the season for the Hurricanes tonight, with Marc-Andre Fleury slated to man the other crease. Darling lost his first appearance on Oct. 30 when he let in three goals against the Boston Bruins.

Despite making an appearance at practice today and yesterday, Max Pacioretty will remain out of the lineup tonight.

Alex Tuch has been red hot since making his season debut last week, racking up three goals and two assists in the five games since.

Sebastian Aho’s record 12-game point streak to begin a season was snapped last night when he failed to record a point. He has 17 points up until this point in the season, and the Golden Knights will surely have their hands filled whenever he’s on the ice.

How to watch

Time: 7 p.m. PT

TV: AT&T Sports Net

Radio: Fox Sports 98.9 FM/1340 AM