Two of the best in the West Division are back at in Monday night in St. Paul as the Minnesota Wild (13-8-1) host the Vegas Golden Knights (16-4-1). Vegas beat Minnesota twice last week in Nevada, rallying to win 5-4 in overtime on Monday and 5-1 on Wednesday.
However, Vegas is only slightly favored at (-113) while the Wild are (-105). Puck drop is at 8:00 P.M. Eastern.
Vegas Golden Knights Preview
In their first meeting of the season, Minnesota outclassed Vegas for the first 50 minutes. However, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The Golden Knights kept the Wild without a shot for the final 11 minutes of regulation and the entirety of overtime. An Alex Tuch goal tied things with less than a minute in regulation, and Mark Stone recorded his fifth primary assist of the game, feeding Max Pacioretty for the game-winner.
Two days later, it was an entirely different team. Vegas took control of the game early on, and on the back of yet another strong performance in net from Marc-André Fleury, Vegas rolled 5-1 despite Minnesota holding a 37-28 shot advantage.
With Robin Lehner still out and dealing with an upper body injury, Fleury is likely the starter again on Monday. Fleury is 12-3-0 this season with a league-best 1.60 GAA and a .942 save percentage (also league-best).
Joining Lehner on the injury report are Stone (undisclosed) and Alex Pietrangelo (undisclosed). Keep an eye on their injury designations closer to puck drop.
Minnesota Wild Preview
The Minnesota Wild are one of the league’s best surprise teams this season. They rank seventh in the league in 5-on-5 goals (52) and every team ahead of them has played more games. They also rank in the Top 10 in goals against per game (2.73) and penalty kill (83.3%).
Russian star-in-the-making Kirill Kaprizov has completely changed the energy around the Wild. A human highlight reel, Kaprizov leads all rookies in points with six goals and 13 assists. Minnesota hasn’t had a player like Kaprizov at any point in their franchise history, and he’ll be a player I’ve got my eye on Monday night.
Another rookie, Kaapo Kahkonen, has also been on fire for Minnesota this year. Kahkonen is 9-4-0 this year with a 2.30 GAA and a .918 save percentage. While there’s a good chance Kahknonen gets the call, Cam Talbot (4-4-1, 2.88 GAA, .906 save percentage) could be between the pipes. Whoever starts, Minnesota’s goaltending tandem is good enough to keep them close.
Marcus Johansson (undisclosed) is out of the lineup Monday, while Ryan Hartman (lower body) is day-to-day but will likely be sitting out as well.
The Pick Is In
Minnesota has shown they can hang with Vegas this season, and as a microcosm of the season, Monday’s game comes down to health. If Pietrangelo and Stone are in the lineup, they should win the game. However, if they’re out the Wild can take advantage of a Golden Knights club missing, arguably, its top two players.
If one or both of those two are out, take Minnesota, however, if they both are playing, take Vegas.
Spooky Express Free Pick: Minnesota Wild (-105), pending injury report.