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July 18, 2018

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Blog: Wild complete season sweep of Golden Knights

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AP Photo/John Locher

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, center, blocks a shot by Minnesota Wild left wing Jason Zucker, right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Friday, March 16, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland, left, looks on.

Updated Friday, March 16, 2018 | 10:04 p.m.

The Golden Knights lost their fourth-straight home game Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Vegas was outshot 29-28 by Minnesota, and fell to the Wild for the third time this year by a score of 4-2.

It was a special night for one Las Vegas native, as Wild forward Jason Zucker opened the scoring in the first period. Zucker is the only Nevada-raised player in NHL history, and scored the game’s first goal off a one-timer.

The Wild extended their lead in the second period with goals from Charlie Coyle and Matt Dumba.

Erik Haula scored his 28th goal of the season, and third in two games, in the third period. He was set up by a beautiful pass by David Perron, who was credited with his team-leading 48th assist of the season.

Gerard Gallant pulled Marc-Andre Fleury for the extra attacker with more than two minutes to play, and Ryan Carpenter took advantage to score his ninth goal of the season. The goal, however, came with only 55 seconds left in the game and the Golden Knights’ were unable muster a third goal to tie it.

Zach Parise scored on an empty net seconds later to ice the game.

Minnesota completed the regular season sweep of the Golden Knights, with 4-2 and 5-2 wins in Minnesota and the 3-1 victory Friday night in Las Vegas. The Wild are currently holding onto the third seed in the Central Division, but if they slip one spot to the wild card position, they could be the Golden Knights’ first round opponent in the playoffs.

That is if Vegas holds onto its lead in the Pacific Division. Once as large as 12 points, the Golden Knights’ lead over San Jose has shrunk to only eight, with 11 games remaining.

They’ll try to snap their home losing streak with a matinee game against the Calgary Flames Sunday afternoon.

Wild lead 3-0 after two periods

The Golden Knights trail Minnesota 3-0 after two periods Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.

The Wild led 1-0 after one period, then got goals from Charlie Coyle and Matt Dumba in the middle stanza to extend their lead.

Coyle flipped the puck over Marc-Andre Fleury, who had lunged onto his stomach, to make it 2-0 5:53 into the second period.

Dumba received a feed from Las Vegas local Jason Zucker from behind the Vegas goal, and one-timed it past Fleury with 12:24 left in the period.

Minnesota has controlled the game throughout, outshooting Vegas 24-15.

The Golden Knights are in danger of losing their fourth straight home game. Vegas is 6-14-1 this season when trailing after two periods.

Wild lead 1-0 after one period

There’s one Las Vegas-raised player in NHL history, and he scored during the first period Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Minnesota Wild forward Jason Zucker beat Marc-Andre Fleury with a one-timer 7:19 into the contest to give the Wild a 1-0 lead over the Golden Knights after the first period.

Fleury stopped 10 shots, while Minnesota goalie Alex Stalock stopped all nine he faced.

Vegas’ power play has been great lately, now the No. 6-ranked unit in the NHL after four power play goals in the last two games. Tonight they’ve yet to find the back of the net on two chances.

Minnesota is 26-5-4 this season when scoring first.

Pre game

Golden Knights forward James Neal will be back in the lineup tonight for the first time since Feb. 26.

Neal missed the last eight games after suffering an upper-body injury in Vegas’ 3-2 overtime loss in Los Angeles. He returns tonight, but not on the same line he has played most of the season with.

Instead Neal will play alongside Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson on the Golden Knights’ top line as they look for their first win of the season against the Minnesota Wild.

“It’s a different look and we’ll see how it plays out,” Neal said. “I just play my game. The guys play fast and get the puck to each other so I’m looking forward to it.”

With Reilly Smith still out, but close to returning, Marchessault and Karlsson have played with multiple players as coach Gerard Gallant tries to find a winning combination.

“Neal is going to fit well,” Marchessault said. “He’s a big body, a good shooter and he’s offensive minded like both of us.”

Neal is third on the team with 24 goals, and sixth in points with 40.

“James is a big, strong body,” Gallant said. “He’s coming off an injury so he feels real fresh, so I think he’s going to help that line.”

Gallant also said the decision to play Neal on the first line was more about keeping newcomer Tomas Tatar paired with Erik Haula and David Perron.

“They’ve played real well the last couple of games,” Gallant said. “To be fair to Tatar I’m giving him a couple extra games with those guys. He’s been moved all over the place from left wing to right wing, with different guys so it will be a little confidence for him.”

Tatar has played on three different lines in only eight games with the Golden Knights, contributing only one goal and one assist. He has looked his best with Perron and Haula so Gallant hopes the continuity will bring out the 20-goal scorer that Tatar was in Detroit.

Vegas will need it tonight, having lost the first two matchups with Minnesota 4-2 on Nov. 30 and 5-2 on Feb. 2.

“I thought we played them okay both games in Minnesota but didn’t find a way to win,” Gallant said. “It’s the last time we play them this season unless we see them in the playoffs, if we get there. We’ll see what happens, but it’s an important game. We want the two points.”

Prediction: Golden Knights 4, Wild 2

Season record for predictions: 34-22

Puck drops: 7:30 p.m.

Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas

Radio: Fox Sports 1340 AM and 98.9 FM

TV: AT&T SportsNet (DirecTV 684, Cox 1313, CenturyLink Prism 1760)

Betting line: Golden Knights minus-155, Total 5.5 minus-120 to the over

Golden Knights (45-20-5) (24-8-2 home)

Coach: Gerard Gallant

Goal leader: William Karlsson (36)

Assist leader: David Perron (47)

Expected goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (25-10-3, 2.24 goals against average)

Minnesota Wild (35-26-8) (17-12-5 away)

Coach: Bruce Boudreau

Goal leader: Eric Staal (37)

Assist leader: Ryan Suter (41)

Expected goalie: Alex Stalock (9-10-2, 2.83 goals against average)

Golden Knights game day roster

Forwards (12): Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Ryan Carpenter, Cody Eakin, Erik Haula, William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, Tomas Nosek, David Perron, Ryan Reaves, Tomas Tatar and Alex Tuch.

Defensemen (6): Deryk Engelland, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt and Shea Theodore.

Goalies (2): Marc-Andre Fleury and Malcolm Subban

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