CHICAGO — The Golden Knights begin a two-game road trip Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center.
Opening faceoff is 5:30 p.m. Pacific time, and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.
The Knights are coming off a 3-2 loss to San Jose on Thursday that snapped their seven-game win streak and 10-game points streak.
“I think guys were definitely excited to get here and play against a Chicago team that’s played hard and played well lately,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “It’s always good to get on the road after being home for seven or eight, nine days.”
Center Cody Eakin, who was scratched Thursday, is expected to return to the lineup against the Blackhawks after he participated in the morning skate.
Max Pacioretty is projected to return to his spot at left wing alongside center Paul Stastny and right wing Alex Tuch on the “All-American Line.” Pacioretty skated in Reilly Smith’s spot against the Sharks.
Smith, who is on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, made the road trip and was on the ice at the end of the morning skate. He will not play Saturday.
Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury is expected to make his 41st start, which leads the league.
The Knights (27-16-4, 58 points) have never lost to the Blackhawks in five meetings and are averaging 5.2 goals per game in those matchups.
The Knights defeated Chicago 8-3 at United Center on Nov. 27 and won 4-3 on Dec. 6 at T-Mobile Arena.
“Both games they really played well, and they outplayed us actually, and we had to have great goaltending,” Gallant said. “They’re a very talented team. They’ve got a lot of skill in the offensive zone. We just have to make sure we’re ready to play hard, play good solid defense because they can bring a lot offensively.”
Collin Delia was announced as the Blackhawks’ starting goaltender. He owns a 2.49 goals-against average and .939 save percentage in six starts and has filled in admirably since starter Corey Crawford was sidelined with a concussion Dec. 16.
Chicago (16-22-8, 40 points) is tied with St. Louis for last in the Central Division, but the Blackhawks are 5-3-2 in their past 10 games.
“Their record’s not great, but they’re a lot better team than their record, for sure,” Gallant said. “They’re a talented team and they work hard.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Brandon Pirri
Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-Alex Tuch
Oscar Lindberg-Cody Eakin-Ryan Carpenter
Tomas Nosek-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb-Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore-Deryk Engelland
Jon Merrill-Nick Holden