The Vegas Golden Knights will play their first home game in almost a month on Saturday night when they host the Carolina Hurricanes in Las Vegas.
The Golden Knights last played at T-Mobile Arena on Jan. 11 when they heard their fair share of boos while getting blanked by Elvis Merzlikins and the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Vegas then played its next eight games on the road sandwiched around a nine-day break for its bye and the NHL All-Star Game.
Following the first of those eight road games — a 4-2 loss at Buffalo on Jan. 14 — the Golden Knights fired head coach Gerard Gallant and replaced him with Peter DeBoer, who had been fired a little over a month earlier by San Jose.
DeBoer, once called “a clown” by Gallant during last season’s heated seven-game Western Conference first-round playoff series won by the Sharks, will make his T-Mobile debut behind the home bench. And although his hiring was greeted with mixed reviews by Golden Knights fans, Vegas comes in having won three of their last four games, including an impressive 7-2 victory at Florida on Thursday.
“Yeah, good trip,” DeBoer said. “Considering the Tampa game (a 4-2 loss on Tuesday) which I thought we played well enough to deserve better, it was a good trip.”
Mark Stone had two goals and three assists in the win over the Panthers to become the first player in Vegas history to compile five points in a regular-season game. Stone and Paul Stastny had both accomplished the feat in a 6-3 win in Game 3 of the playoffs against San Jose last April.
“Wow, yeah,” DeBoer replied when asked about Stone’s game. “I mean he’s a good player every night but that was another level tonight.”
It was also a milestone game for goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who registered his 460th career win, breaking a tie with Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers for fifth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list. Fleury also stopped a penalty shot by Brett Connolly in the second period, the 20th save of a penalty shot in his career, which ranks second to Roberto Luongo (29) since the stat officially began being tracked in 1934-35.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been home,” Fleury said. “To finish (the road trip) off this way with a big win, obviously a big two points … it’s good for everyone’s confidence.”
Carolina comes in off a 5-3 win at Arizona on Thursday in the second game of a four-game road trip that began with a 6-3 loss at St. Louis. Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho each had two goals and an assist in the win over the Coyotes for the Hurricanes, who are fifth in the Metropolitan Division but hold the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, entering Friday.
Carolina, which has allowed the first goal in four straight games, trailed Arizona, 2-0, early in the second period before scoring four consecutive goals to pull out the win.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, man. Here we go again,'” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour told NHL.com. “Bad breaks, this and that. The guys didn’t. They hunkered down.
“We’ve got to keep grinding. We have to do it right, and we did it right tonight.”
This is the second of two meetings between the teams. Vegas won the first one, 4-3, on a late Alex Tuch power-play goal on Jan. 31 in Raleigh, N.C.
–Field Level Media