Knights preview: Playoff rematch comes to T-Mobile Arena

There was a line of on-ice handshakes the last time the Golden Knights and the Winnipeg Jets played at T-Mobile Arena.

The two teams parted with a traditional mutual show of respect after the Knights clinched their first-round playoff series in Game 5 on April 27. The Jets will make their first trip back since at 7 p.m. Thursday.

It’s the Knights’ second meeting with Winnipeg in seven games. They won the first, a 5-3 victory at Canada Life Centre that improved the team’s record to 5-0.

The Knights want to come out on top again to keep their impressive beginning of the season going. They’re 9-0-1, and could become the 13th team in NHL history to not suffer a regulation loss in their first 11 games.

“I wouldn’t say we’re playing very good hockey,” right wing Keegan Kolesar said. “We’re finding ways to win right now. We know we can be a lot better than the last couple of games.”

The Knights, unsatisfied with their recent play, practiced Tuesday and Wednesday at City National Arena rather than staying off the ice at least once. They got some skill work done the first day since they’ve felt their execution with the puck has been lagging. Wednesday featured more touch-ups on the Knights’ structure and special teams.

They hope that works paid off against a Jets team that’s lost two in a row. Winnipeg is a middling 4-3-2 overall, but still has some dangerous high-end forwards like center Mark Scheifele and right wing Kyle Connor.

Scheifele has 16 points in 14 games against the Knights. Connor has 21 in 15.

“We know their top two lines like to generate off the rush,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “If you give them time and space, I think they’ll generate. When you check them well, then it becomes tougher for them.”

The Knights will start goaltender Logan Thompson, who defeated the Jets earlier this season. The 26-year-old is 4-0 so far with a .930 save percentage.

He’ll face a new counterpart in net this time around. Winnipeg is expected to start 2020 Norris Trophy winner Connor Hellebuyck, who is 6-2-2 in his career against the Knights with a .916 save percentage. Goaltender Laurent Brossoit got the start for the Jets against his old team the last time the two sides met.

Cassidy doesn’t think swapping goalies or keeping the same guy makes much difference one way or the other in a matchup like this. He just wants to see the Knights take a step forward after two days of on-ice work, even though the team has taken 19 of a possible 20 points in the standings.

“When you say it, it’s good,” center Chandler Stephenson said. “I know there’s been times in games it hasn’t been what we’ve wanted it to be. … We’re in a good spot. We just have to take a deep breath and just do what we do best.”

Knights vs. Jets (7 p.m.)

TV: KMCC-34, KnightTime+

Radio: KKGK (98.9 FM, 1340 AM)

Line: Knights -140, total 6

Knights’ projected lineup:

Ivan Barbashev — Jack Eichel — Jonathan Marchessault

Paul Cotter — Chandler Stephenson — Mark Stone

Pavel Dorofeyev — William Karlsson — Michael Amadio

William Carrier — Brett Howden — Keegan Kolesar

Alec Martinez — Alex Pietrangelo

Brayden McNabb — Shea Theodore

Ben Hutton — Brayden Pachal

Logan Thompson

Contact Ben Gotz at Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

Original News Source Link – LVRJ

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