The two National Hockey League franchises that top the Las Vegas Westgate NHL futures square off on Thursday Night. The Las Vegas Golden Knights are on the road for a skate-off against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The event is slated to see the initial drop of the puck at 7:30 p.m. ET on Amalie Arena ice in Tampa, Florida. Odds to Win 2018 Stanley Cup (Jan 19).
The Lightning and Knights met in mid-December at T-Mobile Arena. At the time of the December 19th affair Vegas had 21 wins on the season and was the early surprise in the league. The Knights defeated the Lightning in a game in which they scored four power-play goals ultimately winning by a 4-3 margin.
Vegas joined Boston (vs. Vancouver, Oct. 19) and Detroit (vs. Colorado, Nov. 15) as the only teams in the NHL this season to have registered four power-play goals in a game. And the home victory over the team with the most points in the NHL that Tuesday night saw Vegas improve to 14-2-1 at T-Mobile Arena. In addition the 14 home-ice victories were most home wins for any team in the Western Conference at the time.
A rematch of that pre-holiday contest take center stage in Tampa tonight. Most notable is the fact that tonight’s game will be the Lightning’s only home game in a span of 27 days. The Lightning have not played since Jan. 11 following the league-mandated five-day break. Tampa comes off a 5-1 defeat to Calgary and in the game lost All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman for 3-to-6 weeks with a lower-body injury. The Lightning have six more points than anyone in the Eastern Conference despite enjoying the week off. Vegas enters tonight’s contest with a seven-point lead in the Pacific and has two more points than any other team in the Western Conference.
Vegas has managed only four goals in the last three games and aims to break out of a 0-for-14 slump with a man-advantage across their last five events.
Tampa head coach Jon Cooper has tinkered with this lines recently despite the team’s overall success this season. Cooper did a remix with his defense pairs with Victor Hedman out moving Slater Koekkoek into the top six. Koekkoek teamed with Anton Stralman at practice on Wednesday afternoon according to the Tampa Bay Times. The paper also reported that Braydon Coburn was paired with Jake Dotchin at practice and rookie Mikhail Sergachev with Daniel Girardi. The first-year Girardi is expected to return after missing the team’s last two games.
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Odds to Win 2018 Stanley Cup (Jan 19)