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Road-weary early schedule starts to ease for Golden Knights

Golden Knights forward Alex Tuch can’t wait to reacquaint himself with his kitchen.

“I feel like I haven’t cooked in months,” Tuch said.

“I do a couple little pasta dishes, but I really like doing a quinoa stir fry,” he added. “Quinoa, onions, spinach all sauteed with grilled chicken, some chicken sausage and either a barbecue or teriyaki marinade.”

The NHL schedule makers certainly didn’t show much concern for a steady diet of home cooking for the Knights in the first half of the season.

The Knights played 22 of their first 36 games on the road, and now hope to reap the benefits of an extended-stay stretch with 11 of the next 16 games at T-Mobile Arena.

SHORT DESCRIPTION (Las Vegas Review-Journal)

That begins with Thursday’s 7 p.m. game against the New York Islanders, when the Knights also will take the ice without forward Max Pacioretty, who was placed on injured reserve Wednesday after suffering an apparent lower-body injury during Monday’s loss at Columbus.

Coach Gerard Gallant had no comment on Pacioretty’s status or prognosis, though being on injured reserve will cause him to miss at least three games. Brandon Pirri was recalled from the team’s American Hockey League affiliate in Chicago to take his place.

The Knights have stayed afloat despite the unbalanced schedule, posting a 9-12-1 road record. They have made their real gains at home, where they will look to build on a 10-3-1 mark.

“I feel like we’ve been on the road a lot with some real tough trips,” forward Ryan Reaves said. “Where we are right now, I think we’ll take it. Playing all these road games and not a lot at T-Mobile in front of our fans, it’s grueling.”

Winning at home becomes even more important with the way the rest of the Pacific Division contenders have been playing.

For the first six weeks of the season, mediocrity ruled in the division, but that has changed.

Calgary, San Jose and Anaheim, the three teams ahead of the Knights in the standings, have combined to win 23 of their past 30 games. The Knights currently occupy one wild card spot with Edmonton holding down the other, just a point behind with 39.

“If we weren’t winning and we were playing .500 over the last month, we’d be in a bad spot right now,” Gallant said.

”A month ago, everyone was saying the Pacific Division was the weakest in hockey, and now it’s changed. There’s five teams in the Pacific that would be in the playoffs. It’s a good division. There’s no bad teams.”

It’s still far too early for scoreboard watching. It’s impossible to ignore what’s going on, however.

“You try not to look at the standings too much, but at the same time you have to be aware when other teams are stringing together wins and you have to make sure you’re taking care of business, too,” Reaves said. “It starts right now with this stretch. There’s some teams in this division getting hot, and we’ve got to keep pace and then start pulling away.”

Added Tuch: “Listen, If we’re watching a game, we’re not cheering for the guys in our division. But we’re not worried about those other teams right now. We’re just worried about us.”

Tuch is single, but he pointed out how nice it will be for some of his married teammates to finally get a long stretch to be with their families, especially around the holidays.

He will be bringing in his family from upstate New York, who will probably be the beneficiary of some of his culinary pursuits.

It’s good to be home.

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

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on Twitter.

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