Knights visit Wild in clash of playoff teams

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Golden Knights are inching closer to capturing both the Pacific Division title and the top seed in the NHL’s Western Conference.

They can take another step toward those goals on Monday night when they conclude a home-and-home series against the Minnesota Wild in Saint Paul, Minn.

The Golden Knights (47-22-7, 101 points) have defeated the Wild (44-23-9, 97 points) in both outings thus far this season. Jack Eichel scored and set up a goal in Vegas’ 5-1 victory on Feb. 9 and added two assists to help the Golden Knights erase an early deficit in a 4-1 win over Minnesota on Saturday.

“I’m sure they’ll be bringing it. It’s another big test for us,” Eichel said of Monday’s rematch with the Wild. “They play well at home. They create a lot offensively. We’re going to be ready to go and match their intensity.”

Eichel (one goal, seven assists) and Ivan Barbashev (one goal, four assists) are each riding a five-game point streak for the Golden Knights, who are guaranteed to remain in first place in the Pacific until at least Monday. Vegas holds a two-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers (45-23-9, 99 points) and a three-point cushion over the Kings (44-22-10, 98 points), although Los Angeles visits the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

Chandler Stephenson collected a goal and an assist to increase his point streak to three games. He has nine points (two goals, seven assists) in his last dozen games.

Laurent Brossoit turned aside 29 shots to improve to 3-0-3 on the season for the Golden Knights. After the game, he made his intentions known of just what role he wants to play for Vegas in the playoffs.

“I want to be the guy,” Brossoit said. “I’m just looking to keep performing like this and keep building and building.”

The regulation loss snapped a six-game point streak for Minnesota, which holds a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche (45-24-6, 96 points) and Dallas Stars (41-21-14, 96 points). The Wild and Stars have six games remaining on the season while Avalanche have seven.

“We didn’t like our energy today,” Minnesota coach Dean Evason said. “We didn’t have the pop we’ve had. It happens. Our try was there. Our energy was not.”

Matt Boldy had an assist in the first encounter with the Golden Knights before opening the scoring on Saturday. He has 16 points (12 goals, four assists) in his past 11 games.

Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, formerly of the Golden Knights, said he saw room for improvement after sustaining his first regulation loss since Feb. 15.

“Just little things in the game,” Fleury said, per the Twin Cities Pioneer Press. “It can turn quickly. I like that nobody quit. We always felt like we could come back and pushed hard at the end.”

After seeing an 11-game road point streak (8-0-3) go by the boards, the Wild now return home where they boast a 24-11-3 record. Minnesota also sports a 7-1-2 record versus Vegas at the Xcel Energy Center.

–Field Level Media

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