The Vegas Golden Knights have lost three games in a row, but little in the National Hockey League right now is a better tonic for losing than the last-place Arizona Coyotes. Tonight at T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, the Golden Knights host the Coyotes in what the home team hopes is a solution to its recent problems on the ice.
Arizona (7-18-4) occupies the bottom of the Pacific Division, while Vegas (15-9-1) is in second place. The Golden Knights are 3-0-0 this season already against the Coyotes, outscoring them by a combined 11-5 score. In fact, two of the first three games for Vegas this season were against Arizona: a 2-1 overtime win on the road in the second game of the season and a 5-2 victory at T-Mobile in the Golden Knights' home opener. The third win came on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, on the road in Arizona.
The two division rivals won't play each other again until late March, and with Vegas already clinching the season series in its inaugural NHL campaign, there's a lot of pride on the line for the Coyotes. The first NHL team in the desert after a move from Winnipeg in 1996, Arizona last made the playoffs in 2012 when it won the Pacific Division and advanced all the way to conference finals for the only time in franchise history.
Since then, however, the Coyotes have finished no better than fourth place, and last year, the team won just 30 games while finishing sixth.
After getting the night off Friday in Winnipeg to rest, goaltender Malcolm Subban will return to the crease tonight for the Golden Knights. Subban (4-2-0) suffered his first two losses of the season earlier this week, although his overall numbers (.924 save percentage, 2.24 goals-against average) are still very good. He will be facing Arizona veteran goalie Scott Wedgewood (3-4-2, .915, 2.66), who has started five games in a row now for the Coyotes—including last night against the New Jersey Devils, where he saved all 27 shots he faced to record the shutout.
This home game for the Golden Knights starts a nine-game stretch where the team is on T-Mobile ice for seven games, through December 23. With a 9-2-0 home mark, Vegas needs to take advantage of this schedule perk over the next three weeks. The home games in this sequence include December 5 against Anaheim (11-11-5), December 12 against Carolina (11-9-5), December 14 against Pittsburgh (15-10-3), December 17 against Florida (10-13-3), December 19 against Tampa Bay (18-6-2) and December 23 against Washington (15-11-1).
Those are some tough home contests, so beating a team that's down right now like Arizona is imperative for the Golden Knights if they want to hold on to their early position in the Pacific Division. Game time tonight is 5 pm PT.
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