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Colin Miller’s possible return could boost Golden Knights power play

Updated January 18, 2019 - 5:49 pm

Help is on the way for the Golden Knights’ struggling power play.

Defenseman Colin Miller worked with the No. 1 unit at practice Friday, and all indications are he will be activated from injured reserve before the Knights host Pittsburgh on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

“He’s real close,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “He skated real good the last couple days. We’ll see (Saturday), but the last couple days have been great. He’s doing some power-play reps, so real close. I don’t know about (Saturday).”

Miller suffered an upper-body injury Dec. 17 at Columbus and missed the past 13 games after playing every previous game in franchise history.

The Knights must make room on the 23-man roster if they activate Miller and could choose to place goaltender Malcolm Subban (undisclosed) on IR rather than waive a player.

Miller, who was not available to the media following practice at City National Arena, has two goals and 15 assists in 36 games. He skated with Nick Holden during defensive drills.

The Knights missed Miller’s booming shot from the point on their power play, which is 1-for-30 in its past 10 games.

They were ranked No. 15 in the league on the man advantage at 21.1 percent with Miller in the lineup and went 18-for-61 (28.6 percent) during a 20-game stretch from Nov. 8 through Dec. 16.

Since Miller was sidelined, they’ve converted on three of their 35 chances and fallen to 20th overall (18 percent).

“When he shoots the puck and gets puck through, he’s a real key to our power play,” Gallant said. “Again, we’re going to go in streaks. For me, it hasn’t cost us any games. Maybe the last one (against Winnipeg), like I talked about. Besides that, we’re winning a lot of hockey games and our (penalty kill is) good.

“It’s all about the (wins). I don’t care if we go 0-for-5 and win 2-1. That’s fine with me because I know it’s going to come. We have too many good players.”

The Knights went 0-for-6 on the power play, including a two-man advantage late in the second period, and fired 12 power-play shots on goal in Tuesday’s 4-1 loss to Winnipeg. Jonathan Marchessault also hit the goal post on the Knights’ first power play.

Brandon Pirri and Max Pacioretty noted the lack of execution against the Jets, and Pirri was especially critical of his own efforts on the power play despite accounting for the Knights’ lone goal.

“You get put in a role to be an offensive contributor, and I feel like I wasn’t good enough,” Pirri said.

Gallant tinkered with his power-play personnel Friday, and the units were on the ice with assistant Ryan Craig well before practice. They also spent a portion of the practice working 5-on-4 situations.

Miller joined forwards William Karlsson, Marchessault, Pirri and Cody Eakin on one unit, with Pacioretty, Paul Stastny, Alex Tuch and defensemen Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore on the other group.

“We’ve just got to find it and get it going,” Gallant said. “I’ve always said you’ve got to work hard. Just be more aggressive and get more pucks to the net and more people to the net and win those battles. That’s how our power play is going to get better.

“As long as they’re working hard and getting some opportunities, we’ll keep working with it. There’ll be times I get frustrated and we might change some things up, but it’s not yet.”

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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