After salvaging the final game of a three-game homestand with a 4-1 victory over Arizona on Thursday, the Vegas Golden Knights start a two-game road trip through western Canada when they face the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.
Vegas, which leads the Western Conference with 14 victories and 28 points, is 8-1-0 on the road this season and has won its last six in a row away from Las Vegas.
After playing their games against the Oilers and Monday at Vancouver, the Golden Knights will have played at least one game against each team in the Pacific Division.
“We’ve seen everyone in our division except Edmonton and Vancouver, so we get them both this trip,” first-year Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “So this is good for us. See where we’re at with our competition.”
So far, so good for the Golden Knights, who entered Friday’s action with a five-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.
Vegas swept a five-game eastern road trip but then lost back-to-back home games against St. Louis (3-2) and San Jose (5-2) before rebounding to knock off the Coyotes.
“You hate losing at home,” forward William Carrier, who scored what proved to be the game-winner, said. “(It was) a good bounce back by the team.”
The contest marked the 1,000th consecutive game played by Golden Knights forward Phil Kessel, extending his NHL ironman record for consecutive games played.
“Obviously 1,000 games in a row, that’s a lot,” Kessel said. “I don’t really know how I did it.”
Kessel, who was honored for his streak in a ceremony before the game, said the most important thing was that Vegas snapped its short losing streak.
“We (had) lost a couple of games,” Kessel said. “It’s a long year and you just keep improving and growing as a team.”
Edmonton is just 4-6-0 at home this season. The Oilers are coming off a 3-1 home loss to Los Angeles on Wednesday in a rematch of their Western Conference first-round playoff series last season, won by the Oilers in seven games.
“It was a hard-fought division game between two teams that played a playoff series last year, so there’s a little history there and we ended up on the wrong side of it,” Edmonton coach Jay Woodcroft said.
Edmonton enters the contest in fourth place in the Pacific and 10 points behind Vegas but veteran center Derek Ryan says the team isn’t going to push the panic button over its recent 2-5 stretch which came on the heels of a five-game winning streak.
“I think what every team in the NHL is searching for right now is that consistency, be able to put forth your best effort for 60 minutes every night, and it’s hard,” Ryan said. “We’re playing lots of games … it’s a grind. We have to grow up a little bit and find some maturity and be able to put forward our best effort every night.”
Cassidy said after the team’s optional practice on Friday that center Nicolas Roy, who is ninth on the team in scoring with four goals and seven assists, is “doubtful” for Saturday’s game with a lower-body injury.
–Field Level Media