Tonight is arguably the biggest and most significant game of the year as the Vegas Golden Knights and the Edmonton Oilers meet in a mouthwatering Pacific Division showdown.
We are in do or die territory in the National Hockey League right now, and the Vegas Golden Knights face a real date with destiny tonight.
After beating the Calgary Flames on Sunday to propel themselves back to the top of the Pacific, the Golden Knights (38-24-8) will look to tighten their grip on the division by beating the Oilers.
It is a contest with huge ramifications given that the Oilers are just two points behind Vegas with a game in-hand, and all eyes will be on this tantalizing matchup.
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This really is set up to be one of the most intriguing showdowns of the year, and the outcome could really set the tone for the remainder of the regular season.
That is a huge blow to the Golden Knights considering that McDavid has been his usual dominant self this year, piling up 96 points (33 goals, 63 assists) in 63 games, with 43 of those points coming on the power play.
And then there is Leon Draisaitl who has elevated his game to a whole different level this year, leading the Oilers and the NHL in points with 110 (43 goals, 67 assists).
The Oilers have also been getting contributions from other players too, including from young stud Kailer Yamamoto who has recorded 11 goals and 13 assists for 24 points in 25 games.
One of the biggest factors behind Edmonton’s success this year has been their stellar play on special teams.
They have spent an NHL-high 94 days this year ranking in the top five on both the power play and on the penalty kill, which is just outstanding.
Heading into tonight’s contest, the Oilers currently rank 1st in the NHL on the PP (29.6), and second on the penalty kill (84.8).
So, to put it bluntly, the Golden Knights will have their absolute work cut out for them tonight in Edmonton.
The Oilers are 9-4-2 in their past 15 games and, with nine of their final 13 regular season games on home ice, they will fancy their chances of beating the Golden Knights to the Pacific Division crown.
Mikko Koskinen, who stopped 45 shots in Edmonton’s 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday, will get the start tonight for the Oilers.
Koskinen has saved 97 of the last 99 shots he has faced while he is 18-13-2 this year with a 2.75 Goals Against Average and a .917 Save Percentage.
The Golden Knights, who are 10-2-0 in their last 12 outings, will give Marc-Andre Fleury the start in goal tonight.
Fleury is 26-16-5 this year with a 2.79 Goals Against Average and a .905 Save Percentage.
However, Alex Tuch won’t play tonight despite coming off the LTIR after suffering a setback in what has been an injury-ravaged year for the forward.
Mark Stone is still day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
This is the third meeting between between the Vegas Golden Knights and the Edmonton Oilers this year, and it is arguably the most important.
Connor McDavid scored twice and Leon Draisaitl had a three-point night as the Oilers beat the Golden Knights 4-2 at T-Mobile Arena on Nov. 23, while Vegas got their revenge with a shutout on home ice on Feb. 26.
After tonight, the Golden Knights and the Oilers will lock horns for one last time in the regular season on Mar. 31.
Let’s look at tonight’s Starting Lineups, per nhl.com…
Vegas Golden Knights
Scratched: Deryk Engelland, Jon Merrill
Injured: Alex Tuch (leg), Mark Stone (lower body)
Tyler Ennis – Leon Draisaitl – Kailer Yamamoto
Here is all the essential information you need to know prior to faceoff…
Time: 6:00 p.m. PT
Where: Rogers Place – Edmonton
TV Broadcast: AT&T Sportsnet
Radio: FOX Sports 98.9/1340
Live Streaming: ESPN+ has a free 7-day trial that includes live streaming for this game on all your smart devices! Besides NHL games, ESPN+ features a selection of live games from MLB, MLS, Serie A, FA Cup, and EFL. Get in on the action with Live UFC Fight Nights, 30+ Top Rank Boxing cards, Grand Slam tennis from Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open.
This is arguably the biggest game of the year for the Vegas Golden Knights who must avoid tired legs after playing on Sunday night.
If they can beat the Edmonton Oilers tonight they will stretch their lead at the top of the Pacific Division to four points with 11 games of the regular season remaining.
After tonight the Golden Knights take on the surging Minnesota Wild on Thursday, before finishing this five-game road trip in Colorado against the Avalanche on Sunday.