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Knights ready for rematch of one of their worst losses this season

There will be no popcorn or candy. No one is saving seats for their buddies.

The film of the Golden Knights’ first meeting against the Carolina Hurricanes isn’t exactly a box office smash among the players. It was a 6-3 loss Dec. 19 that wasn’t even as close as the score indicated.

“I’ll never watch (that film) ever again,” defenseman Zach Whitecloud said. “No need. They’re a good team in their building and they absolutely kicked our (butts). That’s just one of those games where they played well and we didn’t. You move on from it.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy isn’t going to sit his team down and make them watch the full tape. They will see bits and pieces, however. The Knights (31-16-6) need to learn to make sure the sequel is better when they host the Hurricanes (30-17-5) at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.

“I don’t think it’s of value to show them the whole thing,” Cassidy said. “They will see some stuff that we need to do better and stuff we did do well at times. We weren’t good in that game and they were clearly the better team, but there’s always some things you can show to say, ‘Here is an opportunity we had to do something better.’ That’s sort of how we’ll approach it.”

The six goals the Knights allowed to the Hurricanes are tied for the most they’ve given up in a game this season.

Carolina scored the last one 4:44 into the third period to take a 6-1 lead. The Knights scored twice in the final 1:24 to make the result look more respectable. They want things to be far different Saturday.

“We just have to take care of our own building, exactly like they did there,” Whitecloud said. “They kept us on our heels for like 58 minutes of the game and did a lot of things right. If I remember right, they won a lot of battles in our end, too. Competing and winning battles in our end can help get us up the ice and relieve some of the pressure.”

The Hurricanes like to get in their opponents’ faces and harass them into mistakes.

It worked the first meeting, but the Knights have pushed back in the past. They swept their two meetings against Carolina last season.

“You can have success against them if you play fast and play north as they try to take away your time and space with the press. And you can get some opportunities behind them if you’re on your toes,” Cassidy said. “If you’re not, it’s going to be a long night chasing the puck and that’s what happened up there.”

Carolina may be even better than when the Knights saw them last.

The Hurricanes were 17-12-3 at that point. They’re 10-4-1 since the beginning of 2024, good for the NHL’s fifth-best points percentage in that span.

“They’re a tough team to play against, probably one of the toughest teams to play against in the NHL,” left wing Paul Cotter said. “It’s high pressure, it’s high volume. It’s a different style than most. We have to stick to our game mostly and try to tweak some things and reduce the amount of mistakes we make because they take pretty good advantage of them.”

Cotter missed the Knights’ 5-3 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Monday with an illness but said he expects to play Saturday.

Defenseman Shea Theodore will remain out as he recovers from an upper-body injury that required surgery. Theodore was a full participant in practice this week starting Wednesday but Cassidy said he needs more time before getting back in a game. Theodore should rejoin the lineup in the next week.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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