Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers shoots against Nate Schmidt #88 of the Vegas Golden Knights as Brayden McNabb #3 of the Golden Knights defends in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 13, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Edmonton Oilers at Vegas Golden Nights
8 pm. TV: Hockey Night in Canada. Radio 630 CHED
Keys to the game
1. Second-line scoring
In the 5-1 loss in L.A. , the Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl-Zack Kassian axis had a rare rough night (nine shots but only a McDavid goal) and they needed Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, playing through an injury, and his wingers James Neal and Jujhar Khaira to take over, but they only had three shots against Jonathan Quick. The left-wing slot continues to be a revolving door. RNH has seven even-strength points and Neal six in 24 games. That has to improve, although Nugent-Hopkins is hamstrung because he can’t handle the puck as well as normal.
2.Offence from defence
Neither team’s scoring from the back end is carrying the day. The Oilers only have five goals from their D even-strength and the Golden Knights just six. Oscar Klefbom leads the Oilers with 17 points (10 on the PP) and Shea Theodore leads Vegas with 10 (five on the PP). Klefbom has one goal on 55 shots, Theodore one in 60 shots. The Golden Knights would be more dangerous but Nate Schmidt has only played 12 games (eight points).
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3. What’s happened to Alex Chiasson?
The right-winger was last season’s feel-good story with his 22 goals , scoring night after night in the early going, but he has one goal in 20 games. After he scored against New Jersey Nov. 8 it looked like he might have his mojo back but he hasn’t scored in the five games he’s played since. On the season he has 29 shots and just the goal on Cory Schneider. He’s had some power-play time along with Neal, but his play is really out of sync.
4 Finding his Swedish scoring touch
Joakim Nygard had three glorious chances to score on Quick in L.A., including two breakaways and a 10-footer that Alec Martinez got his stick on with Quick beaten. He’s got one goal in his medically impaired season, with only 10 games. The goals that came easily back home, when he had 21 with Farjestads, aren’t there in the NHL. He’s got excellent speed but he’s in that learning-on-the-fly mode right now.
5. Get the Game to OT
The Knights have lost four times in the 3-on-3 this season, the latest to San Jose Thursday. They haven’t scored in their past 11 games that have gone to OT, including six this season. They’re 2-0 in shootouts, so keep it to the overtime, not the skills contest. The last time Vegas scored in OT was last Jan. 12 on Theodore’s goal in Chicago.
Big Matchup: McDavid and Draisaitl vs. Marc-Andre Fleury
The Oilers big guns have identical stats right now (16 goals, 44 points) and are seven points clear of Brad Marchand in the scoring race, but Vegas goalie Fleury keeps rolling along. He won his 450th career game the other day, which puts him seventh on the all-time list, four back of Curtis Joseph and Henrik Lundqvist. Fleury, who turns 35 on Nov. 28, is going to the Hall of Fame with his three Cup rings with the Penguins along with all those W’s in net.
Oilers: PP 22-70, 31.4 per cent, first. PK 71-8, 87.6 per cent, second.
Golden Knights: PP 18-79, 22.8 per cent, ninth. PK 71-82 86.6 per cent, fourth.
Oilers : Matt Benning
Golden Knights : None
Game day lines: Oilers (projected)
Leon Draisaitl-Connor McDavid-Zack Kassian
Jujhar Khaira-Ryan Nugent-Hopkins-James Neal
Joakim Nygard-Riley Sheahan-Josh Archibald
Markus Granlund-Gaetan Haas-Alex Chiasson
Darnell Nurse-Ethan Bear
Oscar Klefbom-Caleb Jones
Kris Russell-Adam Larsson
Game day lines: Golden Nights (projected)
Max Pacioretty-William Karlsson-Rielly Smith
Jonathan Marchessault-Cody Eakin-Mark Stone
Alex Tuch-Paul Stastny-Cody Glass
William Carrier-Tomas Nosek-Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb-Nate Schmidt
Nik Hague-Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill-Deryk Engelland
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