Golden Knights search for consistency on the road

Updated November 13, 2017 - 7:03 pm

EDMONTON, Alberta — The first road trip for the Golden Knights yielded maximum points.

The second outing didn’t prove as fruitful, despite coach Gerard Gallant’s assertion the team played well enough to collect more than three of a possible 12 points.

The Knights headed to Canada on Monday in search of some consistency away from T-Mobile Arena.

The Knights have established themselves as one of the best home teams in the NHL. But it’s been a mixed bag on the road, something the team hopes to rectify on this two-game road trip that begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place.

“I’m happy with the way we’ve played on the road,” Gallant said. “We just took some bad penalties at bad times. We had probably a five- or seven-minute lapse in a couple games on the road, but besides that, we played really good hockey. If we go on the road and play as well as we played last trip, I think we’ll win more points.”

Tuesday’s game begins a stretch that sees the Knights (10-5-1, 21 points) play eight of their next 13 games on the road.

The Knights went 1-4-1 on their most recent trip after opening the season with two wins away from home.

“You try and look at game segments and you know, in those games segments, we didn’t do that great on the road,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “We’ve got to start a new chapter to this month because we set ourselves a little bit of a hole. We’ve got to make sure we’re back and moving in the right direction.”

The Oilers (6-9-2) are the first of six straight games for the Knights against Pacific Divison foes.

Edmonton is led by third-year star Connor McDavid, who won the Hart Trophy last season as the league’s most valuable player.

“When McDavid goes, there’s not many defensemen in the league that can stop him when he’s got some open ice,” Gallant said. “So, we’ll try to take his time and space away, and that’s what every team tries to do.”

The Knights will be without defenseman Luca Sbisa, who did not make the trip and is listed as day to day with a lower-body injury.

Sbisa and Schmidt have been matched against the opposing team’s top line in most games this season, but Sbisa’s absence will force the Knights to juggle their pairings on the blue line.

Deryk Engelland and Brayden McNabb could see plenty of McDavid’s line, which also features high-scoring right wing Leon Draisaitl.

Jon Merrill or Shea Theodore are the two candidates to replace Sbisa, though Gallant did not reveal his lineup after practice Monday at City National Arena.

“Obviously, they’re two great players,” Knights forward William Karlsson said of McDavid and Draisaitl. “We’ve got to be aware of when they’re on the ice. But at the same time, we play like (Friday), we’re going to be a hard team to beat, and players like that are going to have a hard time going against us, too.”

McDavid has 19 points (seven goals, 12 assists) to lead the Oilers, who got off to a 2-6 start as Draisaitl missed four games with concussion suffered Oct. 9 against Winnipeg.

The Oilers concluded a 2-1-1 road trip Sunday with a 2-1 shootout loss to Washington.

“It’s a really good challenge for us, because no matter what their record is, they’re a good team,” Schmidt said. “They’re a team that’s going to be there at the end of the year and be one of those teams that’s going to be hard to beat coming down the stretch. That’s the reason why this game for us is so important.”

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

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