NHL Saturday NBC Preview: Vegas Golden Knights at the Minnesota Wild.
The Vegas Golden Knights play at the Minnesota Wild on Saturday at 8 PM in the fourth game of their opening-round West Division playoff series. NBC has the broadcast.
The Golden Knights won the third game of this series on Thursday by a 5-2 score. Vegas trailed after the first period, 2-0, yet almost dug themselves into a deeper hole. The Wild opened the scoring 2:16 minutes into the first period with Ryan Hartman beating Marc-Andre Fleury. Joel Eriksson Ek made it 2-0 a little over five minutes later. Eriksson Ek then appeared to score a third goal at the 13:05 minute mark of the period. Vegas head coach Peter DeBoer risked a delay of game penalty by challenging the goal, a big gamble since if the review confirmed the scoring play, Minnesota would go on the power play with a 3-0 lead. But the scoring play was called offsides to give the Golden Knights a reprieve.
Mark Stone got Vegas on the board 8:39 minutes into the second period. Patrick Brown evened the score almost seven minutes later. The Golden Knights took the lead at the 17:37 mark with Reilly Smith beating the Wild’s goalie Cam Talbot off his own rebound. William Karlsson scored the team’s fourth goal with only about 2 1/2 minutes left in the third period. Stone added an empty netter with just over a minute left for a 5-2 final score that obscures how close the game was.
Fleury had his least challenging night so far in the series despite giving up the two first-period goals. He only faced 16 shots after making 34 and 29 saves in the first two games. Fleury has stopped 77 of the Wild’s 81 shots for a .951 save percentage.
Talbot made 35 saves in the losing effort. The Minnesota goaltender has stopped 102 of the 109 shots he has faced in this series for a .936 save percentage. Talbot made 42 saves in the Wild’s 1-0 overtime victory in the opening game of this series on Tuesday. He allowed three goals on 28 shots in the Golden Knights’ 3-1 win on Thursday in Game Two.
Minnesota left win Marcus Johansson left the game at 6:55 in the first period after crashing into the nest. The third-line left wing is out indefinitely with a broken arm. Johansson had seven goals and eight assists in 36 games in the regular season playing with center Nick Bonino and Kevin Fiala. The Golden Knights’ Max Pacioretty missed his ninth straight game with an injury after being a game-time decision. The left wing led the team in the regular season with 24 goals. Fourth-line center Tomas Nosek also missed the game as a game-time decision. He left Game Two midway through the first period after taking a hit from Marcus Foligno.
Minnesota won five of the eight games between these two teams during the regular season. Vegas’ victory on Thursday was just the third time in the franchise’s nine games played at Xcel Energy Center, where they defeated the Wild.
BetAnySports lists the Golden Knights as a -110 money line road favorite with the total set at 5.5.
Prediction: Minnesota Wild 4 Vegas Golden Knights 1