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Golden Knights’ Colin Miller scratched for Game 1 vs. Sharks

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant showed last season he’s not afraid to scratch a high-priced player for the playoffs.

Faced with a similar dilemma entering this postseason, Gallant didn’t hesitate to do it again.

Colin Miller, the Knights’ second-highest paid defenseman, was a healthy scratch for Game 1 of the Western Conference quarterfinals on Wednesday.

“I told the guys (Tuesday), we put a lineup together, and there’s three or four guys that aren’t going to play the first game, and they’re tough decisions as coaches. It’s a tough part of our job,” Gallant said. “But, again, guys understand that and you do the best you can, and you hope you get the best out of your players.”

Miller, who signed a four-year, $15.5 million contract last summer, was benched for two games in February after he was on the ice for all three goals in a 3-0 loss at Colorado on Feb. 18. He also was scratched twice last month.

Nick Holden and Jon Merrill were together as the Knights’ third defense pairing against San Jose.

Also, Tomas Nosek played left wing on the third line with center Cody Eakin and right wing Alex Tuch.

Gallant opted for Nosek’s size and penalty-killing ability to combat San Jose rather than the offensive prowess of Brandon Pirri.

“I never worry about the other team. I worry about our team, I really do,” Gallant said. “Every team has two great lines or three real good lines. It’s what I want from my team and they’re tough decisions.”

Pioneer pride

Center Paul Stastny will keep a close eye on this week’s Frozen Four with the University of Denver seeking its second national championship in the past three seasons.

“It’s fun. I work out with those guys or skate with those guys in the summer,” Stastny said. “Obviously that school gave a lot to me, so it’s always (important) to remember where I came from.”

Stastny helped the Pioneers to the title in 2005 as a freshman and met with the current UD players when the Knights were in Colorado two weeks ago prior to the start of the NCAA Tournament.

Two Knights prospects are set to participate in the Frozen Four, which starts Thursday: freshman defenseman Slava Demin of Denver and Providence freshman forward Jack Dugan.

Near disaster

Brayden McNabb and Nate Schmidt were able to laugh about it afterward, but the defensemen barely avoided a head-on collision during the morning skate.

McNabb was beginning a drill and saw Schmidt skating toward him at the last moment. The two did a quick do-si-do not knowing which way the other was going, then collided on the way by.

“He gave me about seven head fakes,” McNabb said.

“What do you mean? That’s just the way I skate,” Schmidt hollered across the locker room.

Schmidt stayed down for a brief moment to check his faculties, but quickly shook off the friendly fire and resumed practicing.

“It could have been a bad situation, but fortunately it wasn’t,” McNabb said.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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