The Golden Knights entered Tuesday with at least one point in seven straight games, and coach Gerard Gallant wasn’t about to mess with what’s working.
Despite having new reinforcements at his disposal, Gallant used the same forward lines for the fifth straight game when league-leading Tampa Bay visited T-Mobile Arena.
Forward Tomas Hyka, who was recalled from the American Hockey League on Monday when defenseman Luca Sbisa went on the injured-reserve list (lower body), was scratched against the Lightning along with forward Ryan Carpenter and defenseman Brad Hunt.
“A perfect world, I’d like to have 20 players playing every night and nobody gets hurt,” Gallant said Tuesday after the team’s morning skate at City National Arena.
“That’s the perfect world, but we’re playing well and we’re working hard as a team and we’re winning some hockey games. And all the guys understand. It’s all about winning games and putting your best lineup out there, and for now, that’s what we’ve got.”
Hyka had 12 points (six goals, six assists) in 16 games with Chicago of the AHL before being recalled. The 24-year-old from the Czech Republic had four goals in five preseason games.
Carpenter did not dress for the third straight game after being claimed on waivers from San Jose on Dec. 13.
“He’s playing well and working hard but, again, we’re 6-0-1 in our last seven and I’m not going to make a lot of changes if I don’t have to,” Gallant said of Carpenter. “And he understands that. He’s an NHL player in San Jose and works hard, but that’s just the way it is right now.”
Forward William Carrier was a full participant in Tuesday’s morning skate and could be activated prior to Saturday’s game against Washington.
“He’s doing real well,” Gallant said. “Everything’s good, but there’s no sense rushing him. We’ve got two practices on Thursday and Friday and then our next game Saturday.”
Tuesday’s game featured two of the betting favorites for the Stanley Cup, according to the latest odds released this week by the Westgate sports book.
The Lightning are the current favorite to win the title at 6-1, while the Knights are down to 14-1 after opening at 200-1 on May 30. Nashville is the second choice at 8-1.
The Knights are 7-1 to win the Western Conference — they opened at 100-1. Nashville is the favorite in the Western Conference (4-1).
Odds to win the Stanley Cup
Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1
Nashville Predators 8-1
Pittsburgh Penguins 10-1
Toronto Maple Leafs 10-1
Columbus Blue Jackets 12-1
St. Louis Blues 12-1
Los Angeles Kings 14-1
Vegas Golden Knights 14-1
Washington Capitals 16-1
Chicago Blackhawks 18-1
Anaheim Ducks 20-1
New York Rangers 20-1
Winnipeg Jets 20-1
Source: Westgate sports book