The Golden Knights must slow down the NHL’s top offense if they want to stop their slide at home.
The Knights, who have lost five of their last six home games, host the Buffalo Sabers at 7 p.m. Monday at T-Mobile Arena. The Sabers lead the NHL in goals per game (3.97), have the league’s top shooting percentage (12.2) and are second on the power play (30.0 percent).
The Knights, who have eight goals in their last six home games, will need to rediscover their scoring touch to keep up. That, or they’ll have to find a way to slow down the Sabres’ impressive top line of left wing Jeff Skinner, center Tage Thompson and ex-Knight Alex Tuch.
Thompson is second in the NHL in goals (25) and third in points (49). Skinner has 35 points in 28 games, while Tuch has 34 points in 31.
“Skinner has a tendency to hide a little bit outside and finish tight,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Thompson and Tuch are just big men who have found their place on the ice and play with a lot of confidence.”
The Knights will still come up short as they try to change their fortunes at home.
Center Jack Eichel (lower body injury), ex-Captain of the Sabers, and left wing Paul Cotter (upper body) did not skate on Monday and remain day to day. Center Brett Howden (lower body) and defensemen Shea Theodore (lower body) and Zach Whitecloud (undisclosed) are also injured.
The Knights are expected to start goalie Adin Hill against the Sabres. He won all three of his starts in December, allowing seven goals with a .920 save percentage.
“It’s no secret, they’ve been scoring a lot of goals lately,” defenseman Alec Martinez said. “Offenses like that are going to get opportunities. That’s hockey. But what you can do to limit those, limit time in the zone, eliminate time and space goes a long way.
Knights at Sabers (7 p.m.)
TV: AT&T SportsNet
Radio: KKGK (98.9 FM, 1340 AM)
Line: Ritter -175, total 6½
Knight’s record: 22-10-1
Sabers record: 15-14-2
Head-to-head: Knight 1-0-0
Knight projected lineup:
Phil Kessel – Chandler Stephenson – Mark Stone
Reilly Smith – William Karlsson – Jonathan Marchessault
Jonas Rondbjerg – Jake Leschyshyn – Michael Amadio
William Carrier – Nicolas Roy – Keegan Kolesar
Alec Martinez – Alex Pietrangelo
Brayden McNabb – Daniil Miromanov
Ben Hutton – Nic Hague