Preview: Golden Knights take on desperate Flames in key rematch
The Vegas Golden Knights have won back-to-back games as well as five straight on the road, but Vegas’ only loss in the last seven games came at the hands of the Calgary Flames, who scored seven goals in a 7-2 thrashing last week in Vegas.
The Golden Knights will get another crack at the Flames tonight as the two clubs wrap up the season series.
The Golden Knights are 1-2-0 against Calgary this year, though the Flames have yet to lose in regulation (2-0-1).
Historically, the Golden Knights have struggled in Calgary; Vegas is 11-6-0 in the all-time matchup but 3-5-0 at Scotiabank Saddledome. Vegas took six penalties in one period the last time the Golden Knights were in Calgary, a 3-2 win for the home team back in October.
The Golden Knights hold a two-point lead over Los Angeles for the top seed in the Pacific Division. Calgary currently is on the outside looking in, desperately fighting for a postseason bid but sitting four points behind Winnipeg for the second wildcard. The Flames have 79 points through 72 games and are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games.
Tyler Toffoli recorded four points in last week’s blowout and has five points in three games since. He is one goal away from hitting the 30-goal threshold for the second time in his career, and he leads the Flames with 65 points in 72 games.
Jonathan Quick struggled mightily in last week’s game against the Flames, giving up six goals on 29 shots. Though he has otherwise played very well for Vegas, it’s possible Logan Thompson could get the nod in tonight’s tilt.
Thompson was activated off injured reserve ahead of Tuesday’s game, serving as Quick’s backup in Vancouver. Thompson has not played since Feb. 9. He is 20-13-3 with a 2.66 goals-against average, .914 save percentage and two shutouts.
Jacob Markstrom only faced 19 shots in last week’s game, turning aside 17. He is 19-19-10 on the year with a 2.98 goals-against average, .889 save percentage and one shutout. Dan Vladar, who has only gotten one start this month, is 13-6-5 with a 2.91 goals-against average and .896 save percentage.
Keys to the game
Score first: The Golden Knights have excelled when taking an early lead; Vegas is 9-0-0 in March when scoring first and 0-2-0 when giving up the first goal. When these teams met last week, it took just over 15 minutes for the goal light to go on, but it did so behind Quick after a MacKenzie Weegar shot broke through. Though the Golden Knights ultimately evened things up at 2-2 midway through the second period, a strong start is important, especially on the road in a tough building.
Play with discipline: Vegas can’t afford to take penalties against the Flames. The Golden Knights only gave up one power-play goal against Calgary in the recent loss, but in the other two games this season, Calgary has had a combined 10 power plays, going 4-for-6 in October and 1-for-4 in late February.
Don’t lose momentum on the power play: Vegas went 0-for-4 in the 7-2 loss to the Flames last week and 0-for-4 the other night in Vancouver. The power play has not been able to deliver consistent results, but when it repeatedly fails at key moments in the game, it can be deflating. The turnover that led to J.T. Miller’s shorthanded penalty-shot goal the other night was a tough turn of events and helped the Canucks get back into a game Vegas previously had dominated. Vegas can’t allow that to happen tonight.
Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault
Reilly Smith — William Karlsson — Pavel Dorofeyev
Paul Cotter — Chandler Stephenson — Phil Kessel
Brett Howden — Teddy Blueger — Michael Amadio
Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore
Nicolas Hague — Zach Whitecloud
Andrew Mangiapane — Elias Lindholm — Tyler Toffoli
Jonathan Huberdeau — Mikael Backlund — Blake Coleman
Nick Ritchie — Nazem Kadri — Dillon Dube
Milan Lucic — Adam Ruzicka — Walker Duehr
Noah Hanifin — Rasmus Andersson
Nikita Zadorov — MacKenzie Weegar
Dennis Gilbert — Troy Stecher