After sweeping a two-game road trip, the Western Conference-leading Vegas Golden Knights open a four-game homestand on Saturday night when they host the New York Islanders in Las Vegas.
It’s the start of a stretch that will have Vegas play 12 of its next 15 games on home ice. That might not be a positive for the Golden Knights, however.
Vegas is an NHL-best 14-2-1 on the road this season, including a 4-1 victory at Chicago on Thursday. But the Golden Knights are a pedestrian 8-7-0 on home ice, including 1-4-0 in their last five. The lone win was 2-1 in overtime against the Metropolitan Division’s seventh-place team, the Philadelphia Flyers.
“I don’t have an answer for you,” forward Reilly Smith said of the home-ice woes after scoring his league-leading fourth shorthanded goal and his 14th goal of the season, tied for the team high, against the Blackhawks. “We need to be better at home. This next game will be a good test.”
“There’s no magic button that we can push or we would have pushed it,” goaltender Logan Thompson said. “We’ve got to focus up. We can do it on the road so let’s dial it in and finish (strong) at home before Christmas.”
The Golden Knights will be playing every other night before taking the Christmas break. They also face Buffalo, Arizona and St. Louis during the homestand.
“Clearly have been able to get to our game … and get back to our game better on the road,” Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Pucks are going in for us on the road. … We just haven’t buried our chances at home to get those leads and extend them and make life easier on us like we have been able to do on the road.”
The Golden Knights will be playing a New York team that will be playing the third game of a five-game road trip. The trek started with a 4-3 shootout loss at Boston on Tuesday and continued with a 5-4 defeat at Arizona on Friday night in the front end of a back-to-back.
The Islanders jumped out to a 2-0 lead on goals by Sebastian Aho and Mathew Barzal in the first 14 minutes but the Coyotes responded with three consecutive goals before Noah Dobson tied it late in the second period. Travis Boyd and Clayton Keller then scored goals to give Arizona a 5-3 lead in the third. Anthony Beauvillier put in a six-on-five rebound goal at 18:21 for the 5-4 final.
It was New York’s third loss in a row and sixth in their last eight games.
“After the start we had, just really an unacceptable performance by all of us,” forward Matt Martin said. “For whatever reason, just started playing the game differently. We were having success doing it the way we were doing it, and then you start turning pucks over. … Once we gave up the momentum, we never took it back. Like I said, it was just not good enough.”
The Islanders finished 0-for-5 on the power play.
“Extremely disappointed with the fact that we didn’t produce,” coach Lane Lambert said. “We generated some shots, but we need a goal there.”
–Field Level Media