Forward Alex Tuch is expected to make his season debut and skate on the second line when the Golden Knights host Vancouver at 7 p.m. The game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.
Tuch suffered a lower-body injury in the final preseason game against San Jose on Sept. 30 and missed the first eight games of the regular season.
He was a full participant in practice Tuesday and skated with center Erik Haula as part of the second line during Wednesday’s morning skate.
“I’m expecting him to play, but I’ve got to talk to the trainers first,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said afterward at City National Arena.
If Tuch is activated, winger Tomas Hyka is expected to be reassigned to the Knights’ American Hockey League in Chicago.
“Coach wanted me to get more (repetitions) with that line,” Tuch said on Tuesday. “I skated a lot with Erik last year, too, and we’ve always had good chemistry. Watching Pacioretty, I played a little bit of preseason with him and I thought we had some good connections on and off the ice.”
The Knights (4-4-0, 8 points) have won three straight and trail Pacific Division leaders Anaheim and San Jose by three points.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who was named the NHL’s third star of the week, will start against the Canucks (5-4-0, 10 points). Fleury has allowed two goals and stopped 69 of 71 shots in his past three starts.
“They’re surprising some people,” Gallant said of the Canucks. “They’re playing a good, solid hockey game.”
Vancouver could be without two of its top point producers for the start of this two-game road trip, which also is their annual Dad’s Trip.
Winger Brock Boeser (groin), the team’s leading scorer last season as a rookie, did not practice Tuesday. Rookie center Elias Pettersson, who has a team-high eight points in five games, remains in the NHL’s concussion protocol.
The Canucks lost 5-2 to the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals on Monday and have eight goals in four games since Pettersson was sidelined.
“He’s a very talented young player,” Gallant said of the 19-year-old Pettersson. “Obviously, he’s a big part of their group.”
The Knights went 4-0-0 against Vancouver last season.
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty-Erik Haula-Alex Tuch
Tomas Nosek-Cody Eakin-Ryan Carpenter
William Carrier-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan Reaves
Shea Theodore-Nick Holden
Brayden McNabb-Colin Miller
Jon Merrill-Brad Hunt