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Wednesday night hockey takes us to St. Paul, where the Minnesota Wild will host the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the second of a two-game series of West Division action. The Wild won the first game on Monday night 2-0. Vegas leads the season series 2-1 going into Wednesday night’s game.
Golden Knights Looking to Get Back on Track
The Golden Knights are first in the West Division with a 16-5-1 record for 33 points. This ranks them eighth overall in the NHL.Going into Monday night’s game, Las Vegas was on a six-game winning streak, including two wins over Minnesota. The Wild defense came alive and shutout the Golden Knights in a rare goal-less game for Vegas.
💻 DeBoer on Stone and Pietrangelo: Neither one skated today and they’re still in the evaluation process. pic.twitter.com/dAXdbxuUut
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 9, 2021
Las Vegas managed 26 shots on goal in the shutout loss, including five shots apiece from Nicolas Hague and Max Pacioretty. Points leader Mark Stone missed Monday’s game after suffering an ankle injury on March 6th against San Jose. He’s posted 27 points on the year, including 21 assists, and tallied five assists against Minnesota the last time these two teams met. He is currently questionable for Wednesday night’s game. Also questionable is standout defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who also missed Monday’s game.
Marc-André Fleury has been elite this season, posting a .943 save percentage and a 12-4-0 record, with 1.57 GAA. He only allowed one goal in the loss to Minnesota, the other was an empty-netter.
Vegas scores an average of 3.18 goals per game, and allows an average of 2.09 goals per game to opponents. They rank 23rd in the NHL on the powerplay, converting 17.4% of their chances, and second in the league on the penalty kill at 88.1%. Their offense is excellent, their defense is simply elite.
Wild Look to Even Season Series
The Minnesota Wild are currently in third place in the West Division with 29 points, which ranks them 14th overall in the NHL. Their shutout win over Las Vegas on Monday was their first win over the Golden Knights this season, after being swept in a two-game series in Vegas just a week ago.
Monday’s shutout win was the first career clean sheet for goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen, who stopped all 26 shots the Golden Knights managed to get off. The Finn has been stellar all season, posting a 10-4-0 record with a .924 save percentage and 2.13 GAA. The other half of Minnesota’s goalie tandem, Cam Talbot, hasn’t been too shabby either. He’s holding a .906 save percentage with 2.88 GAA and a 4-4-1 record.
A memorable night for Kaapo Kähkönen.
— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) March 9, 2021
Kevin Fiala gave Kahkonen the support he needed, using a lightning-quick release to fire the puck over Fleury’s right shoulder in the first period. Jonas Brodin added an empty-net goal in the third for insurance. Kirill Kaprizov leads the Wild in points with 19, including 13 assists. Joel Eriksson Ek leads the team in goals with eight.
The Wild average 3.09 goals per game, and allow an average of 2.61 goals per game to opponents. They have a league-worst 6.8% conversion rate on the power play, but make up for it on the penalty kill, where they rank sixth at 84%.
Wild are 4-0 in their last 4 home games.
The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
At full strength, this is a good matchup that strongly favors Las Vegas. In this case, however, the Golden Knights are missing some vital figures. If Mark Stone and Alex Pietrangelo are out, this is a significantly weakened Vegas squad that’s already been shut out in this series. Stone’s ability to generate offense and get shooters like Alex Tuch and Jonathan Marchessault the puck in good positions has been instrumental in the season we’re seeing in Vegas. The Wild have proven themselves pesky and well-rounded enough to bring down great teams, including this limping Las Vegas team. Minnesota gets the sweep.
Want another opinion on this pick?
Full-Game Total Pick
Marc-André Fleury is having an unbelievable season. He posted a shutout against San Jose in the game before last, and only allowed one goal in the loss to Minnesota. It took a filthy move and a greasy wrister from Fiala to beat him, a save no goalie could’ve made. Without Pietrangelo in front of him or Stone to lengthen possessions on the other end, Fleury could see a barrage from Minnesota, who’s already proven they can slow down a Stone-less attack. Go with the under.