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Golden Knights hope road trip serves as antidote for losing skid

Updated January 12, 2020 - 3:11 pm

If the Golden Knights thought the just-completed, seven-game homestand was too long, what must they be thinking about their upcoming road trip?

It’s not what you might think.

The Knights begin an eight-game roadie — or a pair of four-game trips, depending on your preference — that will keep them away from T-Mobile Arena until Feb. 8.

After the Knights dropped three straight to fall out of first place in the Pacific Division, the trip could be exactly what they need to snap out of their funk.

“Getting on the road, getting away, getting back to that simple hockey, sometimes when you’re at home, you take it for granted a bit,” right wing Mark Stone said. “Maybe just a little bit too comfortable. I think getting on the road could be a big help for us.”

The first leg of the trip is an Atlantic Division swing that starts Tuesday at Buffalo, followed by games at Ottawa, Montreal and Boston. Of the four teams, only Boston resides in a playoff position.

The Knights return home for the All-Star break, then have their bye week Jan. 26-30.

They begin another four-game trip Jan. 31 at Carolina, then head to Nashville, Tampa Bay and Florida.

Nine of the Knights’ next 10 games are on the road.

“You lose a couple games in a row, it’s always good to get away, be on the road,” center Paul Stastny said. “You focus on basically the guys in the locker room, that’s it. Just focus on hockey and do whatever we can to help the team win.”

Because of the recent slide, the Knights are clinging to third place in the division with 54 points. They’ve played one more game than Calgary, Arizona and Edmonton, while Vancouver has two games in hand.

If those four teams were to win their games in hand, the Knights would be out of a playoff position. The entered Sunday fifth in the Pacific based on points percentage at .563 and 19th out of 31 teams.

That puts added importance on the next four weeks for the Knights, who recorded points in seven of their past nine road games after starting out 5-6-1 away from home.

“We’re going and playing some good teams, teams that are playing well,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “It will say a lot about our group when we sit back in this room after these next eight games of what we’re going to be like.”

Missing Marchessault

Jonathan Marchessault was scratched for the final five games of the homestand with a lingering lower-body injury. The left wing’s absence was noticeable in the losses to Columbus and Los Angeles, in particular.

Coach Gerard Gallant has been forced to juggle his lines without Marchessault, and the offense has suffered from the trickle-down effect despite outshooting Pittsburgh, Los Angeles and Columbus a combined 107-61.

“It looks like we’re missing him real bad, so hopefully he’s back the next game,” Gallant said. “We’ll get him back soon and he’ll make a big difference. But it’s no excuse for losing the last three games like we’ve lost.”

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

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