3 Keys: Stars vs. Golden Knights, round-robin Cup Qualifiers

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Stars vs. Golden Knights

6:30 p.m. ET; NHLN, NHL.TV, SN1, ATTSN-RM, FS-SW

The Dallas Stars and Vegas Golden Knights each play their first game of the round-robin portion of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers at Rogers Place in Edmonton, the Western Conference hub city, on Monday.

The Stars were 1-0-1 against the Golden Knights during the regular season before it was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. Dallas won 4-2 on Nov. 25; and the Golden Knights won 3-2 in overtime Dec. 13. 

The round-robin, which also includes the St. Louis Blues and Colorado Avalanche, will set the top four seeds for the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the West.

“It counts now,” Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said. “You want the easiest path you can get, and the easiest path would be getting the first seed.”

Here are 3 keys to the start of the round-robin:

 

1. Pacioretty remains out

The Golden Knights will rely on their offensive depth in the absence of Max Pacioretty, their leading scorer with 32 goals and 66 points. He hasn’t traveled to Edmonton after missing the final four days of training camp but could rejoin the Golden Knights soon. DeBoer said Pacioretty “is on the horizon.” Chandler Stephenson will fill in for Pacioretty on the top line with William Karlsson and Mark Stone.

The third line, with left wing Nick Cousins, center Alex Tuch and right wing Nicolas Roy, combined for seven points (two goals, five assists) in Vegas’ 4-1 exhibition win against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.

“These games are crucial,” Cousins said. “We want to give ourselves the best chance possible and we want that top seed. I feel like they’re going to be really competitive.”

 

2. Seguin, Cogliano return

Forwards Tyler Seguin and Andrew Cogliano will play for the Stars. Seguin, Dallas’ leading scorer with 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) in 69 games, was ruled unfit to play and missed its 2-0 loss to the Nashville Predators in an exhibition game on Thursday. Cogliano left in the first period after a collision with Nashville defenseman Yannick Weber and didn’t return.

Seguin will center the top line with left wing Jamie Benn and right wing Denis Gurianov. Cogliano will be at left wing on the fourth line with center Radek Faksa and right wing Blake Comeau

The Stars averaged 2.58 goals per game in the regular season, 26th in the NHL, and will need Seguin healthy and producing consistently.

 

3. Special-teams play

The Golden Knights had the ninth-best power play in the League (22.0 percent) but ranked 27th on the penalty kill (76.6 percent). The Stars were 13th on the power play (21.1 percent) and 17th on the penalty kill (79.7 percent). 

Vegas went 1-for-6 with the man advantage in its exhibition win against Arizona, went 3-for-4 on the penalty kill and scored a shorthanded goal. The Stars went 0-for-3 on their power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill in their exhibition loss to Nashville.

 

Golden Knights projected lineup

Chandler Stephenson — William Karlsson — Mark Stone

Jonathan MarchessaultPaul StastnyReilly Smith

Nick Cousins — Alex Tuch — Nicolas Roy

William CarrierTomas NosekRyan Reaves

Brayden McNabbNate Schmidt

Alec MartinezShea Theodore

Nick HoldenZach Whitecloud

Robin Lehner

Marc-Andre Fleury

Scratched: Patrick Brown, Dylan Coghlan, Oscar Dansk, Reid Duke, Deryk Engelland, Nicolas Hague, Keegan Kolesar, Peyton Krebs, Jon Merrill, Gage Quinney

Unfit to play: Max Pacioretty

 

Stars projected lineup

Jamie Benn — Tyler Seguin — Denis Gurianov

Mattias JanmarkJoe PavelskiAlexander Radulov

Roope HintzJason DickinsonCorey Perry

Andrew Cogliano — Radek Faksa — Blake Comeau

Esa LindellJohn Klingberg

Jamie OleksiakMiro Heiskanen

Andrej SekeraStephen Johns

Ben Bishop

Anton Khudobin

Scratched: Gavin Bayreuther, Landon Bow, Nick Caamano, Ty Dellandrea, Justin Dowling, Taylor Fedun, Joel Hanley, Thomas Harley, Joel Kiviranta, Jake Oettinger, Jason Robertson

Unfit to play: None

 

Status report

Stars coach Rick Bowness declined to announce his starting goalie. Bishop saved 16 of 18 shots against Nashville. Khudobin saved all nine shots he faced. … DeBoer said Lehner will start for Vegas after Fleury started its exhibition game.

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