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.”
1. Friendly faces. It’ll always be a thing when Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury faces his former team. He’s 1-1 with a 3.03 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage against the Penguins, but didn’t play in the 4-2 loss Oct. 11 when Phil Kessel finished with a hat trick.
2. Welcome mat. The Knights begin a three-game homestand against Pittsburgh and own the second-best home record in the Western Conference by points percentage (.750). They are 7-2-1 and have points in eight straight gmaes at T-Mobile Arena against Eastern Conference teams.
3. End of the road. Pittsburgh is at the end of a five-game, 12-day trip against the Pacific Division and playing the second game of a back-to-back. The Penguins dropped two straight entering Friday’s game at Arizona but were 10-3 in their past 13 and owned the second wild-card spot. Forward Patric Hornqvist (concussion) could return.
Who: Golden Knights vs. Penguins
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: T-Mobile Arena
TV: AT&T SportsNet (Cox 313/1313, DirecTV 684, CenturyLink 760/1760, U-verse 757/1757, Dish 414/5414)
Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM); ESPN Deportes (1460 AM)
Line: Golden Knights -140; total 6½