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Knights have plenty to play for as they await playoff opponent

It’s a waiting game now for the Golden Knights.

This one might not be finished until the last moments of the regular season.

The Knights have punched their ticket to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the sixth time in seven years and will defend their Stanley Cup title. Vibes are good, and morale is at its apex.

Three games remain in the regular season, and the Knights’ focus turns to rounding out their game. That journey continues Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche at T-Mobile Arena.

“You don’t want to go into the playoffs not knowing your game or having question marks about your game,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “That’s what these next few games are for us.”

This upcoming stretch will also determine whom the Knights face in the first round.

The Knights hold the second wild card in the Western Conference, while trailing the Los Angeles Kings by one point for third place in the Pacific Division.

Los Angeles’ lead entering Saturday was one point. The Kings played late against the Anaheim Ducks.

A top-three division finish would mean a matchup against the Edmonton Oilers or Vancouver Canucks. Finishing in the second wild card results in a Western Conference Final rematch against the Dallas Stars.

“Our game’s not going to change a ton on the opponent,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’ve got to play and play to our strengths. We’re trying to get our game in order before worrying about who we’re playing.”

Colorado is the first team on that list, and the Knights might be heading into the Sunday matinee reaping the benefits of rest.

It will be the second game of a back-to-back for the Avalanche after they lost 7-0 at home to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday. Colorado’s bid for home-ice advantage in the first round took a hit with the shocking defeat.

This could be viewed as a measuring-stick game between the last two Stanley Cup champions. Cassidy said it would be difficult to pinpoint that.

“For us, it’s more about keep building our game,” Cassidy said. “Beat a good hockey club tomorrow and play how we want to play.”

Goaltender Adin Hill will start for the Knights and try to get back on track after losing three of his last four starts. Hill allowed five goals on 25 shots Wednesday in his first start since a lower-body injury kept him out since March 23.

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo (illness) and left wing William Carrier (upper body) are also not expected to play.

The Knights still have much to play for even though their first goal has been accomplished.

“We punched our ticket to the dance, which is the first part,” right wing Keegan Kolesar said. “After that, you want to be playing your best hockey going into it.”

Knights’ projected lineup

Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault

Chandler Stephenson — Tomas Hertl — Pavel Dorofeyev

Brett Howden — William Karlsson — Anthony Mantha

Paul Cotter — Nicolas Roy — Keegan Kolesar

Noah Hanifin — Nic Hague

Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore

Ben Hutton — Zach Whitecloud

Adin Hill

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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