The Anaheim Ducks are off to a 5-1-1 start heading into a road date with the Vegas Golden Knights at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday night. Anaheim is coming off consecutive victories over St. Louis and the Islanders. The Golden Knights have also won two in a row, beating Philadelphia and Buffalo.
Younger guys stepping up
Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf is expected back in the lineup on Saturday when the Ducks visit Vegas. Getzlaf has missed the last five games with a groin injury–one of several Anaheim forwards who have missed time this season. His return will add depth to the center position, as Ryan Kesler appears fully recovered from hip surgery two offseasons ago. Kesler, who missed the first three contests of this 2018-19 campaign, lit the lamp twice in Wednesday’s 4-1 victory over the Islanders and has three goals and an assist in four appearances.
“He has the attitude that he’s not going to be denied, and that’s a great personal attitude that he takes toward it,” head coach Randy Carlyle said of Kesler. “If somebody says you can’t, he’s going to show you he can.”
Anaheim is off to its best start since 2014-15 despite the absence of Corey Perry (knee), Ondrej Kase (concussion), Jakob Silfverberg (finger), and Patrick Eaves (shoulder). The success can be attributed to a number of young players stepping up, including rookie forward Max Comtois. The 19-year-old has two goals and four assists in his first seven NHL games while recording an assist in each of his last three games. But the star of the show has been goalie John Gibson (4-1-1, 1.89 goals-against average, .948 save percentage), who has faced an NHL-most 213 shots.
Fleury back in form
Vegas has recovered from a 1-4 start by winning its last two games, including a 4-1 victory over Buffalo on Tuesday to kick off a five-game home-stand. The Golden Knights finally scored more than two goals in a game for the first time this season. Veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (3-3, 2.71 GAA, .896 SVP) won his 407th game on Thursday, tying Glenn Hall for 10th on the NHL’s all-time list. Jonathan Marchessault (team highs of four goals, eight points, and a plus-6 rating) scored twice on Tuesday.
Is it true that the best interviews start with laughter?
yes it is
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 19, 2018
“I feel really honored to be among these guys (in the top 10),” said Fleury, who has stopped 52 of 53 shots over the last two contests. “I just try to do my part, try to do my job stopping the puck.”
“We played a real good, solid hockey game,” head coach Gerard Gallant assessed. “I thought we were the better team most of the night and worked hard. I seen a lot of things we’re going to have to do the rest of the year. Really happy with the performance.”
The Vegas Golden Knights are:
- 36-15 in their last 51 home games
- 46-20 in their last 66 games against the Western Conference
- 7-1 in their last eight games against teams with winning percentages over .600
The Anaheim Ducks are:
- 2-5 in their last seven games against the Pacific Division
- 5-1 Under in their last six overall
- 13-5 in their last 18 road games
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Vegas defenseman Deryk Engelland could return after leaving last Saturday’s game and missing Tuesday’s contest with an upper-body injury. Whoever is manning the blue line, they will be playing in front of a goalie (Fleury) who has restored confidence with his past two performances. The Golden Knights won three of four head-to-head meetings last season. They should be able to take care of business at home.
Prediction: Vegas Golden Knights
Full-Game Total Pick
Vegas is 1-for-19 on the power play this season and Anaheim is 18-for-22 on the penalty kill. That does not bode well for the Golden Knights’ chances to do damage with the man advantage on Saturday. Fortunately for the home team, Fleury is once again playing like the Fleury of old. The under is 5-1 in the Ducks’ last six overall, 13-5 in their last 18 on the road, and 22-8-2 in their last 32 against the Pacific Division. It is also 5-1-1 in the Golden Knights’ last seven against the Western Conference and 4-1-1 in their last six against opponents with winning percentages over .600. Look for this one to stay under the total.