Left wing Max Pacioretty will return to the lineup Friday, and the Golden Knights can clinch a playoff berth when they host the Minnesota Wild at T-Mobile Arena.
Opening faceoff is 7 p.m., and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.
With a victory, the Knights would move within three points of the slumping Sharks for second place in the Pacific Division. Those teams meet Saturday in San Jose to finish out the season series.
An Arizona loss at Colorado on Friday also would be enough for the Knights to clinch.
“We’re going to continue to push,” Knights forward Alex Tuch said. “Nothing is set in stone for playoffs, positioning and stuff like that. We have to continue to compete and just have a good mentality and good habits going forward.”
Pacioretty, who is third on the team with 22 goals, suffered a lower-body injury March 21 against Winnipeg when he took a hit from defenseman Jacob Trouba and fell awkwardly along the boards. He sat out the past three games.
Goaltender Malcolm Subban is set to make his seventh consecutive start and returns to the friendly confines of T-Mobile Arena, where he is 5-0-1 with a 2.13 goals-against average and .923 save percentage in seven appearances.
Minnesota (35-33-9, 79 points) has lost two straight, and its playoff hopes are dwindling.
The Wild, who haven’t played since Monday’s 1-0 loss to Nashville, sit four points behind Colorado for the second wild-card spot entering Friday.
Offense has been the problem, with Minnesota being shut out twice since March 11 while scoring two or fewer goals in eight of its past nine games.
Leading scorer Zach Parise and forward Joel Eriksson Ek are game-time decisions, according to coach Bruce Boudreau.
Goaltender Devan Dubnyk is expected to make his NHL-leading 64th start for the Wild.
The Wild have points in 11 of their past 15 road games and are 20-16-2 away from home, the fourth time in franchise history they’ve recorded 20 road wins.
Minnesota has never lost to the Knights in regulation, going 4-0-1.
“First and foremost, better start,” Tuch said of the key against the Wild. “We didn’t have a good start against St. Louis; we didn’t have a good start against Colorado. We’re playing at home tonight, so the crowd will give us some energy, but we can’t rely on that, especially when we’re going on the road for playoffs and stuff like that. But it’s a full 60-minute effort that we haven’t had, and I think it’ll happen tonight.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-Mark Stone
Tomas Nosek-Cody Eakin-Alex Tuch
William Carrier-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan Reaves
Nate Schmidt-Deryk Engelland
Brayden McNabb-Shea Theodore
Jon Merrill-Colin Miller