Ottawa Senators at Vegas Golden Knights
When and Where: Sunday, Oct. 28, T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Nev., 8 p.m. EDT.
The Vegas Golden Knights look to end their five-game homestand on a positive note Sunday when they host an Ottawa Senators team in the middle of a three-game road swing.
The defending Western Conference champions have been uneven thus far but are still in the thick of the Pacific Divsion race early. Vegas (4-5-1) had a four-game point streak snapped with a 3-2 defeat to Tampa Bay on Friday night.
Young Sens try to avoid third-period blues
Ottawa (4-4-1) has not struggled as much as many thought following the trade of superstar Erik Karlsson to San Jose, but there have been multiple lessons on needing to play the full 60 minutes early on this season.
In their five overall losses, the Senators have yielded 12 third-period goals, and four of them came in Friday night’s 6-3 loss at Colorado. Matt Duchene scored twice in his first game in Colorado since being dealt to the Senators last season in a three-team deal that also included Nashville, but Ottawa allowed five unanswered goals over a 21:01 span bridging the final two periods.
Just as the Avs put on some pressure, @Matt9Duchene answered with this.
— NHL (@NHL) October 27, 2018
To add injury to the insult of losing, the Sens lost both center Zack Smith to a broken facial bone and forward Magnus Paajarvi to an injury in the second period. That comes on top of rookie and No. 4 overall pick Brady Tkachuk — who had three goals and three assists in five games — being sidelined by a lower-body injury earlier this month.
Ottawa again had third-period issues against an opponent’s top line as Colorado’s top trio accounted for three goals and eight assists overall. In its 4-1 loss to Boston before the road swing, the Bruins’ top three players combined for three goals and five assists.
“We’re there, we’re hard to beat,” Sens coach Guy Boucher said after practice Saturday. “We’re in the games and it takes the third period when we’re a little worn out to beat us and it’s always a top line that gets us worn out, so we keep on working at that and trying to get better.”
To try and counter those struggles, Boucher is going to carry seven defensemen for this game, which is something he did during Ottawa’s three-game winning streak. Boucher is going to try and compensate for Smith’s absence by moving Colin White down to center the third line flanked by rookie Alex Formenton and Paajarvi.
Craig Anderson will get his seventh consecutive start between the pipes as he looks to avoid a third consecutive loss. He split both meetings versus Vegas last season as the road team won 5-4 on both occasions.
Vegas tries to build on momentum of third period in loss to Tampa
After being outplayed for the first two periods, the Golden Knights looked more like the team that shocked the hockey world and reached the Stanley Cup final in their inaugural season as they outshot the Lightning 13-1.
Vegas has scored more than two goals just twice in its first nine games, but the hope is William Karlsson‘s power-play goal in the final period — just the team’s third with the man advantage in 32 chances this season — will jump start the team’s offense.
that's just what Wild Bill does 🤠 pic.twitter.com/JLTHj7lBab
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 27, 2018
“The third period was the way we’ve got to play,” coach Gerard Gallant said after the loss. “We’d like to play that way for 60 minutes and I think we won’t be on the losing end too often if we play like that.”
Karlsson has a team-high six assists and is second with nine points, trailing only Jonathan Marchessault (10). Karlsson, a 43-goal scorer last season has tallied all three of his goals on this homestand after totaling four assists in his first six games.
Second-line left winger Max Pacioretty, who has just two goals in 10 games, did not practice Saturday and is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Vegas has yet to name a starting goaltender, but it would not be surprising to see Marc-Andre Fleury backstopping the Golden Knights for a sixth consecutive start. He saw plenty of the Senators from his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins, compiling a 13-10-2 record and 3.38 goals-against average in 30 career games against them.
Fleury only faced Ottawa once last season, taking the loss in the 5-4 defeat at home.
The Golden Knights are:
- 13-1 in their last 14 Sunday games.
- 37-17 in their last 54 home games.
- No trends of note.
The Senators are:
- 4-10 in their last 14 games vs. Pacific Division teams.
- 1-12 in their last 13 road games vs. teams with a sub-.500 home record.
- 6-20 in their last 26 games following a loss of three or more goals.
- The over is 4-0 in their last four road games.
- The over is 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.
- The over is 5-0-1 in their last six games following a loss of three or more goals.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Golden Knights appear to be gaining their footing after a slow start, and with a chance to wrap up a five-game homestand with seven points, look for them to be aggressive out of the gate and try to take it to a Senators team that has juggled its lines for this contest. Additionally, having the last change will allow Vegas to match its shut-down line against Ottawa’s newly configured power line.
Prediction: Pick: Vegas -238
Full-Game Total Pick
Despite not scoring more than four goals in any game this season, one gets the sense the Golden Knights are due for an offensive eruption. While the Senators have had their moments, they are still a young team prone to breakdowns at in opportune times. Boucher’s adjustments in personnel — most notably adding the seventh defenseman — could have an effect, but both teams should find enough offense again to let the over hit easily.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 6 goals
Full-Game Prop Bet
Against teams not named the Boston Bruins, the Senators are actually a cumulative plus-4 in goals through the first 20 minutes. Vegas had not allowed a first-period goal on the homestand until Tampa Bay buried a pair Friday night, but the hedge here is there will be a deadlock after 20 minutes, which makes the half-goal all the difference.
Prediction: Pick: Senators +0.5 goals (-150)
Half-Time Side Pick
Though Vegas has had two-goal first periods in three of its 10 games, the Senators have had them in six of their nine games. They create chances, but also give them out, and that up-and-down play lends itself to a high-scoring opening 20 minutes.
Prediction: Pick: OVER 1.5 goals (-125)