Preview: Golden Knights at Canucks
The Vegas Golden Knights have recovered from their mid-February slump with five consecutive victories and look to take care of business when they visit the struggling Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night. Vegas goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury has allowed two goals in his four starts during the streak, including a 33-save performance in a 2-1 victory over Western Conference-leading Calgary on Wednesday.
“They’re one of the best (teams) in the league, and that was a big challenge for us,” Fleury told reporters after tying Jacques Plante for eighth on the NHL’s all-time wins list (437) on Wednesday. “I thought we embraced it. We’ve been locked in lately, and that was another example of beating a good team.” The Golden Knights play Calgary again Sunday in the middle of a three-game trip, but first must battle a Vancouver team that has lost seven of the past nine contests (2-5-2) - including a 3-0 setback at Vegas on Sunday. The Canucks fell behind by three goals before rallying to give Edmonton a scare and succumbing 3-2 on Thursday with their top players are going through scoring slumps. “We have a lot of resiliency and a lot of heart and have a lot of guys who don’t quit,” Vancouver center Jay Beagle told reporters. “But when you go down by three, it is tough, especially on a back-to-back on the road.”
TV: 10 p.m. ET, AT&T Sportsnet Rocky Mountain (Vegas), CBC, CITY, Sportsnet, Sportsnet One (Vancouver)
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS (37-26-5): Defenseman Shea Theodore owns a goal and four assists during a four-game point streak while continuing to add to his career highs of 11 goals and 32 points. “We talked about him being a young and up-and-coming superstar on the back end, the way he skates and the way he handles the puck,” coach Gerard Gallant told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “But I think his game has gotten a lot better, defensively and offensively. He’s just taken off.” Forward Jonathan Marchessault has four assists in the last four games to push his team-leading total to 46 points.
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (28-31-9): Leading scorer Elias Pettersson (26 goals, 57 points) has not scored in nine games and fellow forward Brock Boeser (21, 46) is mired in an eight-game goal drought, but recorded three assists the past two games. Center Bo Horvat, second on the team in goals (23) and points (48), has been kept off the scoresheet in five consecutive contests. Goalie Jacob Markstrom (career-high 24 wins), who was rested Thursday in favor of backup Thatcher Demko after beating Toronto with 28 saves one day earlier, boasts a .954 save percentage in his last four starts.
1. The Golden Knights have earned at least a point in the first seven all-time meetings with the Canucks (6-0-1).
2. Vegas RW Mark Stone, who officially signed an eight-year $76 million extension Friday, has two points in five games since being acquired.
3. Vancouver D Alexander Edler has scored in back-to-back games with Thursday marking his 800th contest.
PREDICTION: Golden Knights 3, Canucks 2