After blowing a chance to move into a tie for first place in the Pacific Division with a 6-5 shootout loss to the visiting Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday night, the Vegas Golden Knights look to rebound on Tuesday when they face the Minnesota Wild in Saint Paul, Minn.
Vegas, which will play nine of its next 10 games in Las Vegas after the trip to Minnesota, is tied for second in the Pacific. The Wild, meanwhile, have overcome a 1-6-0 start to their season to give themselves a chance to sneak into the playoffs.
The Golden Knights are 4-2-2 since Peter DeBoer took over for Gerard Gallant as head coach on Jan. 15, but they squandered a 4-2, third-period lead on Saturday night against the Hurricanes in his home debut behind the bench. Andrei Svechnikov and Justin Williams both scored in the shootout to give Carolina, which tallied four third-period goals, the victory.
“Tonight, it was one of those games,” DeBoer told reporters. “Over a long season, you’ll have games like this.”
The loss came after an impressive 7-2 road win at Florida two nights earlier.
“I’m going to chalk it up as one of those nights,” DeBoer said of the Carolina game. “We’ll learn from it and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
In a tight Pacific Division race, dropping the second of what looked like a sure two points early in the third period was hard to swallow for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champion.
“It was tough,” Fleury said. “We had the lead, and everything was going well. We lost a big point during that game. It’s frustrating. But there’s still many games left in the season, and every point matters, so we have to put that one behind, learn from the mistakes, get back at practice and work on little things here and there and get ready for Minnesota.”
Vegas begins a difficult five-game homestand after the contest with the Wild starting with a Thursday night contest against defending Stanley Cup champ St. Louis and followed by visits from four of the top teams from the Eastern Conference — the New York Islanders, Metropolitan Division-leading Washington, Tampa Bay and Florida.
“There’s a lot of good teams in the league,” Fleury said. “There’s no easy nights.”
Minnesota had a three-game win streak snapped by the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 on Sunday to complete a week in which it snatched six of a possible eight points.
“We’re in a spot where we need to win lots of games,” Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon said. “To have eight (points) would have been a lot better, but we can’t dwell on this. … We have a bunch of big games at home before we go on the road again.”
Minnesota, which is 16-8-4 at home, also hosts the New York Rangers on Thursday and the San Jose Sharks on Saturday before departing on a two-game trip to Vancouver and Edmonton.
“Every single time we play, we have to understand how big the points are, and I think we’re doing a good job with that and playing with good urgency,” Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk said. “It’s challenging, but I think we’d all agree this is the kind of hockey that we’d like to be playing.”
The Wild will welcome in a new face soon, if not Tuesday. Minnesota acquired center Alex Galchenyuk, a protected 2020 first-round pick and minor league defenseman Calen Addison from the Penguins in a Monday trade that sent left winger Jason Zucker to Pittsburgh.
Galchenyuk, 25, has five goals and 12 assists in 45 games this season, his last before free agency. Zucker, 28, is under contract through the 2022-23 season at an average annual value of $5.5 million. He has 14 goals and 15 assists in 45 games in 2019-20.
–Field Level Media
Copyright © 2020
TTWN Media Networks Inc.