RALEIGH, N.C. — Goaltender Maxime Lagace will make his first start of the season Friday when the Golden Knights return from their eight-day break to face the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena.
Opening faceoff is 4:30 p.m. Pacific time, and the game will be televised on AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain.
Right wing Reilly Smith was activated from injured reserve and is expected to play. Defenseman Nick Holden (undisclosed injury) is not on the road trip and was placed on IR to make room for Smith.
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The Knights (29-19-4, 62 points) haven’t played since Jan. 23 and come in having lost two straight games and four of their past six.
“It was nice to get a practice in (Thursday) for sure and get some of the plane legs out of us,” defenseman Jon Merrill said. “Obviously after a long break it’s going to take a little bit to adjust to the timing and things like that. But we hope to get off to a fast start, get our legs moving and keep things simple.”
Lagace served as the backup for the Knights the past six games before the All-Star Game and bye week.
He is 9-6-3 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .899 save percentage in 19 appearances for Chicago of the American Hockey League.
Lagace went 6-7-1 with a 3.92 GAA and .867 save percentage in 16 appearance with the Knights last season while Marc-Andre Fleury was on IR due to a concussion.
Fleury, who was given an extra day off by the team because of his participation in the All-Star Game, arrived in North Carolina late Thursday. He is expected to start Saturday at Florida in the second game of the back-to-back.
“He’s played real well in the minors this year,” coach Gerard Gallant said of Lagace. “He works hard and he was a big part of our group last year. He’s getting an opportunity tonight, and we expect him to play real solid.”
Smith took rushes with normal linemates William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault at the morning skate. He suffered an undisclosed injury late in the second period against New Jersey on Jan. 6 and skated one shift in the third period before departing.
Smith missed the final seven games before the All-Star break.
Also, winger Valentin Zykov is in line to play against his former club. He has appeared in one game since being claimed off waivers from Edmonton on Dec. 29.
Carolina (24-20-6, 54 points) is also coming off an eight-day break and sits five points out of the Eastern Conference’s second wild-card spot.
Petr Mrazek was announced as the starting goaltender for the Hurricanes, and winger Micheal Ferland is projected to return after missing two of the past three games before the break.
All-Star Sebastian Aho leads Carolina with 57 points (22 goals, 35 assists) in 50 games.
The Hurricanes lead the league in shots on goal per game (35.8) and also rank first is shots on goal allowed (27.9). The Knights are second in shots on goal allowed (28.4).
“They’re a real fast team, a quick team,” Gallant said. “They put a lot of pucks to the net. I think they’re an excellent hockey team. They’re playing real good hockey. They skate and they work hard, and they’ve got a lot of talent.”
Golden Knights projected lineup
Jonathan Marchessault-William Karlsson-Reilly Smith
Max Pacioretty-Paul Stastny-Alex Tuch
Brandon Pirri-Cody Eakin-Valentin Zykov
Tomas Nosek-Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Ryan Reaves
Brayden McNabb-Nate Schmidt
Shea Theodore-Deryk Engelland
Jon Merrill-Colin Miller