Knights aim to bounce back from rare loss
For the first time in more than a month, the Vegas Golden Knights will try to bounce back from a loss in regulation time.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Blackhawks are focused on building their own extended point streak.
Chicago (19-14-6) will host Vegas (27-10-2) on Friday night for the teams' second meeting and their first at the United Center. The Blackhawks have earned at least one point in three consecutive games (2-0-1), while the Golden Knights will look to move past a hard-fought 2-1 loss one night earlier against the St. Louis Blues.
The defeat snapped an eight-game win streak for Vegas, which is 12-1-1 in its past 14 contests. The expansion team's hot start has taken the league by surprise and set the stage for what could be a dramatic run toward the postseason.
"I'm not going to sit here and say I thought we'd be in first place," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said to the Chicago Daily Herald. "Nobody would have believed me. I really didn't have expectations.
"I knew we had some good players from the expansion draft. I knew we had good goaltending. And we had a lot of depth and guys who compete and work hard. It's all come together obviously and that's why we're winning."
So is Chicago, at least lately, thanks partly to the unexpected emergence of 32-year-old goaltender Jeff Glass. An upper-body injury to top netminder Corey Crawford prompted the Blackhawks to promote Glass from the AHL's Rockford IceHogs, and he has risen to the occasion by going 2-0-1 with a 2.98 goals-against average and .917 save percentage in his first three NHL starts.
The Blackhawks are led in scoring by Patrick Kane, who has 40 points (17 goals, 23 assists) in 39 games. Rookie sharpshooter Alex DeBrincat (13 goals), captain Jonathan Toews (11) and Nick Schmaltz (eight) are next with 26 points apiece.
Toews has been particularly effective of late. He has a goal and an assist in each of his past two games.
"When your best players lead the charge, your team's going to be dangerous every night," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Vegas could turn to Malcolm Subban in net less than 24 hours after the Blues pelted Fleury with 39 shots on goal. Subban, who is the younger brother of Nashville Predators All-Star defenseman P.K. Subban, is 10-2-0 on the season with a 2.25 GAA and .922 save percentage. He never has faced the Blackhawks.
If Fleury remains in net for the second night in a row, he will look to improve upon his already stellar 8-2-1 record. His career statistics against the Blackhawks include a 5-5-5 record with a 2.60 GAA and .917 save percentage.
An explosive offense has helped both Golden Knights goaltenders establish dominant records. Vegas is led in scoring by newly re-signed center Jonathan Marchessault, who has 37 points (15 goals, 22 assists) in 36 games. William Karlsson is next on the team with 33 points (20 goals, 13 assists), and David Perron is third with 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists).
Updated January 5, 2018