NHL Friday NBC Sports Network Preview: Minnesota Wild at the Vegas Golden Knights.
Minnesota forced a seventh game in this opening round of the West Division playoffs with a 3-0 shutout victory at home against the Golden Knights on Wednesday. The series concludes on the Las Vegas strip at T-Mobile Arena, with the puck dropping at 9:08 PM ET on the NBC Sports Network.
Game 6 was scoreless going into the third period before Ryan Hartman broke the deadlock with a goal at the 4:21 mark of the third period. Vegas believed they scored the tying goal a few minutes later when a Chandler Stevenson wrister beat Cam Talbot. But the officials waved off the goal by calling goalie interference on the Golden Knights’ Alex Tuch, who was jostling with a Minnesota defender at the top of the crease. Peter DeBoer made his third coaches-challenge of this series to reverse the call. His first two challenges resulted in decisive reversals that both took Wild goals off the board. This call got upheld, resulting in a delay of game penalty that put Minnesota on the power play. Kevin Fiala scored soon after at 9:35 to give the Wild a two-goal lead. Nick Bjustad scored the final goal at 15:17 to cement a tied series at 3-3.
Cam Talbot stopped 23 shots in earning his second shutout of this series. He stopped 42 shots in Minnesota’s opening game 1-0 victory in overtime. Talbot has a 2.01 goals-against-average and a .937 save percentage in this series.
Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Hartman have both scored twice for the Wild in the playoffs. Jonas Brodin leads the team with three assists. Jordan Greenway and Matt Dumba have added three points.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 of the 24 shots he faced on Wednesday. After posting a .964 save percentage after the first four games, Fleury has allowed six goals on 37 shots for a .838 save percentage. For the series, Fleury has a 1.66 goals-against-average and a .936 save percentage.
Mark Stone leads the Golden Knights with four goals and five points in the series. Tuch has three goals and an assist. Nick Holden, Mattias Janmark, and Stevenson each have three assists.
Vegas has not been at full strength in this series culminating with them missing four regulars on Wednesday. Max Pacioretty has not played in 12 games with an undisclosed injury he suffered at the beginning of the month. He led the team with 24 goals during the regular season. Pacioretty did take part in the morning skate on Wednesday as a game-time decision. Brayden McNabb is on the COVID quarantine list. He is a top-four defenseman that is paired with Shea Theodore usually. Ryan Reaves was a surprise scratch on Wednesday with an undisclosed injury. He is the team’s primary enforcer playing on the forward grind line. Tomas Nosek has missed the last four games with an undisclosed injury. He had 18 points during the regular season centering the fourth line.
The road team has won four of the six games. After losing the opener, the Knights won the next three games by a 12 to 3 goal margin. The Wild have won the last two games, outscoring Vegas, 7-2.
For a third consecutive year, Vegas will play in a Game 7 after blowing opportunities to close out the series in the fifth or sixth game. The Golden Knights defeated Vancouver in the Western Conference semifinals last year in the seventh game of that series. In 2019, Vegas lost to San Jose in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs to a Sharks team coached by DeBoer. He has a 5-0 record as a head coach in Game 7s.
BookMaker lists Vegas as a -180 money line favorite. For the first time in this series, they have dropped the total from 5.5 to 5 for this game.
Computer prediction: Vegas Golden Knights 3 Minnesota Wild 0