Live Blog: Golden Knights set to clash with Oilers in key Pacific duel

Posted Thursday, 27 February 2020 ‐ Las Vegas Sun

The last time the Golden Knights met the Edmonton Oilers, it was back in November. Vegas was having a putrid month and lost 4-2. Things have changed since then. The Golden Knights are riding a six-game winning streak, currently the NHL's longest, and they have a new coach. The standings have held. The Golden Knights and Oilers are first and third in the Pacific Division, and if the game ends in regulation, the winner will go to bed atop the division. More than half of Vegas' remaining games are against Pacific foes, making tonight's 7:30 p.m. game against the Oilers a crucial battle in the race for the division title. "It always comes down to this, and that's what makes it fun," Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "You have a chance to really put some of these teams behind you with a win or you're putting yourself right in the thick of it if you don't come up with a quick one tonight." The Oilers look a little different than the last time they were in Las Vegas, too. Then it was about slowing Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, as it always is, the latter of whom leads the NHL in assists and points this year. But they were on the same line last time. Whether that makes it easier to defend is up for debate, but the Oilers went out and got two new wingers at the trade deadline that they have flanking McDavid. Draisaitl is on a separate line. That means that, most likely, more than half of the game will be played with at least one of Edmonton's monsters on the ice at any given time. That poses its own challenge for the Golden Knights. "I think, depending on how the game is going, we could see any of those combinations, so you have to prepare for all of them," Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said. "Bottom line, they're two of the top players in the world. However you roll them out there, they're something we have to deal with." The Oilers are one of a handful of teams with a winning record against Vegas all-time, carrying a 5-4 record into tonight's contest, though they are just 2-3 at T-Mobile Arena. Vegas will counter with two new weapons making their team debut. Most notably is backup goalie Robin Lehner, but forward Nick Cousins figures to play a role in the game, as Marc-Andre Fleury will start for the Golden Knights. Cousins was acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline but didn't arrive until after practice this morning because of visa issues. Cousins' first on-ice interaction with his new teammates will be in a game, which is the same situation Chandler Stephenson was in last December when Vegas acquired him from Washington. "That's usually how it goes for most guys — you fit in right away," Stephenson said. "Some guys it's a game, a shift, a period; sometimes it's a little longer. It kind of all depends. I think if you're yourself and play your game and do you, it's a quick transition." For what it's worth, Stephenson scored a goal in Golden Knights' debut. TV: AT&T Sports Net (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink 1760) Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM Betting line: Golden Knights minus-230, Oilers plus-185; over/under: 6.5 (minus-110, minus-110) Golden Knights (34-22-8, 76 points) (19-10-4 home), first place, Pacific Division Coach: Peter DeBoer (first season) Points leader: Mark Stone (63) Goals leader: Max Pacioretty (29) Assists leader: Mark Stone (42) Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (2.79 GAA, .906 save percentage) Oilers (33-22-8, 74 points) (18-12-3 road), third place, Pacific Division Coach: Dave Tippett (first season) Points leader: Leon Draisaitl (37) Goals leader:Leon Draisaitl (62) Assists leader:Leon Draisaitl (99) Expected goalie: Mikko Koskinen (2.89 GAA, .911 save percentage) Golden Knights projected lineupForwards Jonathan Marchessault—Paul Stastny—Reilly Smith Max Pacioretty—William Karlsson—Mark Stone Nick Cousins—Chandler Stephenson—Nicolas Roy William Carrier—Tomas Nosek—Ryan Reaves Defensemen Brayden McNabb—Nate Schmidt Alec Martinez—Shea Theodore Nick Holden—Zach Whitecloud Goalies Marc-Andre Fleury, Robin Lehner

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