The Vegas Golden Knights return home for an emotionally charged game on Tuesday as the expansion club faces the Arizona Coyotes for the second time in four nights. The Golden Knights’ home opener is nine days removed from an unspeakable tragedy that saw 58 people lose their lives and over 500 injured following a shooting at an outdoor concert over a block away from T-Mobile Arena.
”It will be real emotional (because) of what happened here in Vegas,“ forward James Neal said. ”We’re trying to do everything we can to bring a positive light to the city and bring this city together. I think we’ve gotten off to a good start in doing that. (Tuesday) is going to be an amazing night.“ Neal recorded back-to-back game-winning goals for the upstart Golden Knights, including the overtime tally in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Arizona. The Coyotes held a one-goal edge for the majority of that contest before Nate Schmidt scored with 1:12 remaining, leaving Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to lament the end result. ”That’s something we have to learn, to close games down,” Ekman-Larsson told azcentral.com.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NHL.TV, NBCSN, SN360, TVAS
ABOUT THE COYOTES (0-1-1): Coach Rick Tocchet told reporters that Antti Raanta will get the nod on Tuesday after turning aside 40 shots in his first start of the season versus Vegas. Tocchet has full confidence in Raanta, but did express a bit of a concern as his team plays in what is expected to be a charged atmosphere. “As a player, on the other side, you’ve got to be ready to play,” Tocchet said. “You have to have emotion going right into the game. You can’t wade yourself in, put your toe into the water. You’ve got to be mentally focused and have passion invested into the game right away. We can’t sit and wait.”
ABOUT THE GOLDEN KNIGHTS (2-0-0): Marc-Andre Fleury highlighted his strong start to the season with 27 saves on Saturday, with the NHL honoring the three-time Stanley Cup champion two days later by naming him the NHL’s Second Star of the Week. The 32-year-old Quebec native owns a 2-0-0 mark with an 0.98 goals-against average and .973 save percentage this season and has a 1.98 GAA in 12 career encounters versus the Coyotes. Schmidt (one goal, two assists), who signed a two-year, $4.45 million deal in the offseason, joins Neal with a team-leading three points.
1. The national anthem at Tuesday’s game will be led by a member of the Route 91 Harvest Festival Team, the music festival that was the site of Sunday’s tragic shooting.
2. Tocchet told reporters that Arizona F Mario Kempe is expected to provided a bit of “energy” when he makes his NHL debut on Tuesday.
3. The Golden Knights have failed to convert on all 11 power-play opportunities during the regular season after going 0-for-21 in the preseason.
PREDICTION: Golden Knights 3, Coyotes 2