Knights hope to see the light against Lightning
LAS VEGAS (KSNV) —
The Vegas Golden Knights never had a regular-season losing streak longer than three games during their inaugural season en route to the 2017-18 Western Conference championship.
But the Golden Knights, who did lose the final four games in a row in falling to the Washington Capitals 4-1 in the Stanley Cup Finals, will bring in a team-record-tying four-game losing streak into Tuesday night's contest at Tampa Bay.
It's not exactly the ideal opponent to face while trying to snap a losing streak. Coach Gerard Gallant's team is coming off a 3-1 loss at the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
The Lightning, who went into Monday night's action with five more wins than any other NHL team, are running away with the Eastern Conference race. Their 80 points are 15 points ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division and 14 points in front of the Metro Division-leading New York Islanders.
Tampa Bay also owns the best home ice record in the league (20-5-0) and is coming off an impressive back-to-back road sweep of the Islanders, 1-0 in a shootout on Friday night, then a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers on Saturday night at Madison Square Garden.
"It's been consistency," coach Jon Cooper said after the Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead midway through the second period, then held on to defeat the Rangers. "There's bumps in the road all the way along, there's bumps in games, but they find a way. That's what you want in your team."
One of those bumps heading into Tuesday night's contest is a lower body injury to leading goal scorer Brayden Point. He has 30 goals and is second on the team with 65 points, but missed the win over the Rangers, the first game in two years he sat out, and is listed as day-to-day.
"It's more of a precaution on a back-to-back with a day off (Sunday)," Cooper said. "He should be all right."
Point was also held out of the team's practice on Monday afternoon.
Point's linemate, right wing Nikita Kucherov, moved to a line with Steven Stamkos and Ondrej Palat against the Rangers and had his league-leading 58th assist to reach the 80-point mark -- tops in the NHL -- in just 52 games, a team record. The previous quickest mark to 80 points in a season was 60 games by Vincent Lecavalier in the 2006-07 season.
Vegas, which with 62 points is in third place in the Pacific Division, 11 points first place the Calgary Flames and five points behind the second-place San Jose Sharks, has managed just a total of six goals during its four-game losing skid.
"It's all about winning hockey games," Gallant said after the loss to the Panthers. "We played well enough to win 1/8Saturday 3/8. We're making mistakes and they're costing us."
"It's frustrating," said goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who leads the league in games (46), wins (27) and shutouts (six). "It hasn't been going our way the last few games here. We've got to dig in and find a way to win games here."
This is the second of two regular-season meetings between the two teams. Tampa Bay won the first meeting 3-2 on Oct. 26 in Las Vegas behind a 29-save performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy.
--Field Level Media