The Florida Panthers put their 16-8-2 home record on the line when they play host to the road-weary Vegas Golden Knights on Thursday night.
Vegas, which is 13-11-4 on the road, hasn’t played a home game since Jan. 11. Thursday will mark the end of Vegas’ eight-game road trip that so far has netted a 3-3-1 record.
Although it hasn’t been an ideal trip, some Vegas players have put forth great effort, which was the case Tuesday when Max Pacioretty had 11 shot attempts, five of them on goal, as well as three hits and three takeaways.
Even so, the Golden Knights lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-2.
“I liked our game,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said of his team’s performance. “The only thing we didn’t do well was capitalize on our chances.”
The Panthers are also coming off a loss on Tuesday, falling 1-0 in overtime to the host Columbus Blue Jackets. It was the final game of the Panthers’ six-game road trip.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 44 saves for the Panthers, who are 7-1-1 in their past nine games, four of those wins on the road.
“We still got one point, which is a good thing,” Bobrovsky said. “The biggest game is always the next one.”
Both teams are dealing with injuries for that next game.
For the Panthers, that means star center and team captain Aleksander Barkov, who has missed two straight games due to a lower-body injury. Barkov, an All-Star last season, is second on the Panthers in this campaign with 54 points.
Vegas has been without two key forwards. William Karlsson has missed six straight games due to an upper-body injury. Cody Glass has missed 10 consecutive games due to a lower-body injury. Karlsson has scored 10 goals and dished 24 assists in 49 games. Glass has five goals and seven assists in 37 games.
The Panthers and Golden Knights have yet to play each other this season. Last season, they played twice, with each team winning at home. Vegas won 6-5 in a shootout. Florida won 3-1 in the earlier matchup.
This season, the Panthers are led by first-time All-Star Jonathan Huberdeau, a winger who tops the team with 66 points. Winger Evgenii Dadonov leads the team with 23 goals, including 10 on the power play. Florida’s biggest playmakers on the power play are Huberdeau (21 assists) and defenseman Keith Yandle (18 assists).
Bobrovsky, who is expected to start Thursday, is 20-13-5 with a 3.19 goals-against average and a .901 save percentage.
The Panthers are fifth in the NHL in goals per game (3.56) but are 24th on defense (3.23 goals allowed). They rank sixth on their power-play percentage and 24th on their penalty kill.
Vegas is led by goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who is 20-13-4 with a 2.79 GAA and a .907 save percentage.
Pacioretty and Mark Stone lead the Golden Knights with 48 points each. Pacioretty and Reilly Smith lead Vegas with 21 goals each.
Stone leads Vegas with six power-play goals, and defenseman Shea Theodore is the quarterback with the man advantage — 12 assists in those situations.
Vegas is 17th in goals scored per game (3.04) and 10th on the power play. Defensively, the Golden Knights rank 14th in goals allowed (3.00) and 17th on the penalty kill.
–Field Level Media