Knights return home to face rested, relaxed Jets
LAS VEGAS -- Following the first extended east coast road trip in team history, the Vegas Golden Knights make a quick pit stop back home at T-Mobile Arena on Friday night to host the Winnipeg Jets.
Vegas collected only three points (1-4-1) during the six-game, 10-day trip that concluded with a 3-2 loss at Montreal on Tuesday night. After Friday night's contest, the Golden Knights head back to Canada for games at Edmonton and Vancouver
"I was really happy the way we played for the most part on the road trip," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "Ninety-five percent of the road trip I thought we played great hockey. We lost some games I thought we should have won (but) overall, I'm happy with the way we played and competed on the road trip. I think our team is coming home confident even though we only got three points."
"It feels great to be home," Golden Knights defenseman Nate Schmidt said. "It feels nice to wake up to sunny weather. There's nothing's like sleeping in your own bed. That's always a positive."
Vegas (9-5-1) is 6-1-0 at T-Mobile Arena and has won its last five games there. The only loss was to Detroit 6-3, on Oct. 13 when starting goalie Marc-Andre Fleury gave up four goals over a 12-minute span in the third period. Fleury, who took a knee to the head from Red Wings right wing Anthony Mantha during a goal-mouth collision near the end of the second period, went on injured reserve the following day with a concussion and hasn't played since.
Maxime Lagace, fourth on the depth chart before injuries to Fleury and backups Malcolm Subban and Oscar Dansk, will make his seventh straight start Friday even though Fleury was spotted doing some skating at the team's practice facility earlier in the week.
"Every once in a while, they will go out and test things but no one has been cleared," Vegas general manager George McPhee said of his goalies. "They are progressing. They are getting better but we still don't have timelines. When they're ready, they'll be ready. So, it's status quo."
Winnipeg (8-3-3) actually has spent more time in Las Vegas than the Golden Knights this week, flying in right after a 4-1 victory at Dallas on Monday night. The Jets, who have won four of their last five games with the only loss 5-4 in overtime to Montreal, had a day off to play golf and hold a team dinner at the Bellagio on Tuesday, worked out at City National Arena in Summerlin -- the Golden Knights' practice facility -- Wednesday, and practiced at T-Mobile Arena on Thursday.
"Vegas, I think it's unbelievable," 21-year-old left wing Nikolaj Ehlers, who hails from Aalborg, Denmark, and has eight goals this season, said. "Coming from a small town in Europe, all of this you see in the movies. Actually, being here now is pretty amazing."
Winnipeg plays at Arizona on Saturday night. The Jets have scored the first goal in six straight games and have outscored opponents, 24-10, in the first period this season. So, look for an intense first 20 minutes Friday night.
"Definitely something we'll talk about," said Vegas left wing James Neal, who has a team-best eight goals and 12 points. "I think we've had good starts at home. We'll be ready to go. We know that they're playing hard. They've got lots of great players. We'll be ready."
"It's like a playoff game in our building," Gallant said. "Our home record is good and the fans are a big part of that. It's been a lot of fun so far. It really has. We've missed it the last 10, 11 days. Believe me."
Updated November 9, 2017