NHL Hockey: Minnesota Wild vs. Vegas Golden Knights Preview, Odds and Prediction - 05/03/2021

by Big Al Staff

The Vegas Golden Knights play the opening game of a two-game series in Minnesota against the Wild at 8 PM ET on the NBC Sports Network.

Vegas won their eleventh game in their last twelve with Jonathan Marchessault’s power-play winner at the 3:04 mark in overtime. Williams Karlsson began the scoring just after ten minutes in the first period. Mark Stone added a second goal 5:14 minutes into the second period. The Golden Knights allowed two goals in the third period to force overtime before Marchessault’s winner. Marc-Andre Fleury made 19 saves in the victory. 

Peter DeBoer’s team is in first place in the West Division with 74 points. Vegas is four points ahead of Colorado with six games to play, although the Avalanche have one game in hand remaining on their regular-season schedule. 

The Golden Knights acquired Mattias Janmark from Chicago at the trade deadline. The versatile forward with experience at center and wing provides the team depth. He has been playing on the third line anchored by Alex Tuch.

Stone leads the team at right wing with 56 points coming from 19 goals and 37 assists. Left wing Max Pacioretty adds 24 goals and 26 assists. Defenseman Shea Theodore is third on the team with 36 points from his seven goals and 34 assists. 

DeBoer will likely turn to Robin Lehner as his starting goaltender tonight. He has rotated starts between Fleury and Lehner for 18 straight games since Fleury started twice in a row in March in their two-game showdown with Colorado. Lehner is 12-2-2, with a 2.03 goals-against-average and a .923 save percentage. Fleury has a 22-10-0 record with a 2.08 goals-against-average and a .927 save percentage.

Minnesota ended a two-game losing streak with a 4-3 win in overtime against St. Louis on Saturday. Kevin Fail scored 2:16 minutes into overtime to give his team the victory. The Wild fell behind by a 2-0 score in the first period before Mats Zuccarello cut the deficit in half at the 6:53 mark in the second period. Minnesota entered the third period trailing, 3-1, before Nico Strum scored with just over six minutes left in the game. Jonas Brodin then tied the game with one minute left in regulation to force overtime. Kaapo Kahkonen stopped 28 of the 31 shots he faced.

The Wild are 8-1-1 in their last ten games, having clinched a spot in the postseason. Minnesota is in third place in the West, six points behind Vegas, and two points behind Colorado in second place (who have a game in hand). General manager Bill Guerin did not make any moves at the trade deadline.

Kirill Kaprizov leads the team with 43 points from 23 goals and 20 assists. Kevin Fiala has 19 goals and 18 assists. Zuccarello is third on the team with 31 points from 11 goals and 20 assists.

Cam Talbot gets the start tonight for head coach Dean Evason. The veteran has a 17-7-4 record this season, with a 2.48 goals-against-average and a .920 save percentage.

Minnesota has won the last four meetings with the Golden Knights this season. These two teams last played on April 3rd, with the Wild winning in Las Vegas, 2-1.

BetAnySports lists Vegas as a -120 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.5.

Computer prediction:  Minnesota Wild 3 Vegas Golden Knights 2

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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