The Golden Knights continue their four-game homestand Friday when they host the slumping Winnipeg Jets at T-Mobile Arena.
Opening faceoff is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.
“It’s a big game. They’ve struggled lately like we have also, so I think it’s two teams that are hungry to get a win tonight,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. “They got blown out their last game 7-1, so they’ll be ready to go. I thought we played a real good game last game, but we lost. It’s two teams hungry for points, and I think it’s two real good clubs.”
The Knights (32-25-5, 69 points) are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to Boston and have lost nine of their past 12 games overall.
Defenseman Colin Miller will be a healthy scratch for the second straight game, as Gallant confirmed he will use the same lineup from Wednesday’s game.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, who lost his past four decisions, will try again for his 30th victory. He is 2-4-1 with a 3.24 goals-against average and .894 save percentage since the All-Star break.
”It’s a team that is big, and they are fired up early,” Knights center Pierre-Edouard Bellemare said. “Our start to the game is going to be a key point to be able to win that one, for sure.”
Winnipeg (36-20-4, 76 points) has lost three straight and dropped a point behind Nashville for the top spot in the Central Division.
The Jets started their three-game road trip with a 7-1 rout at Colorado on Wednesday, and captain Blake Wheeler was critical of his team’s effort after Winnipeg allowed five goals in the third period.
“They’re the whole package again this year,” Knights left wing Jonathan Marchessault said, “and they lost 7-1 last time out, so we need to be ready for them.”
Speedy winger Nikolaj Ehlers will return to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 4 after he participated in the Jets’ optional morning skate. Ehlers missed 20 games with an upper-body injury.
Connor Hellebuyck (26-17-2, 2.98 GAA, .909 SP) will start in goal for Winnipeg.
Wheeler leads the team in scoring with 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists), and center Mark Scheifele has 68 points (30 goals, 38 assists) in 60 games.
The Jets are 11-3-2 and have won six of the past eight games against the Pacific Division.
Winnipeg defeated the Knights 4-1 on Jan. 15 in the first meeting between the clubs since the Western Conference Final.
“I want their best shot. I want this to be a great game tonight,” Gallant said. “I want us to play the same way we played the other night. You like to see two teams battle it out. It’s about getting two points, but I’d like to see a great game tonight.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith
Brandon Pirri-Paul Stastny-Alex Tuch
Max Pacioretty-Cody Eakin-Oscar Lindberg
Tomas Nosek-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan Reaves
Nate Schmidt-Deryk Engelland
Brayden McNabb-Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill-Nick Holden