The Vegas Golden Knights are dealing with illness and injury entering Game 7 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the Minnesota Wild at home on Friday (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS, ATTSN-RM, BSN).
Vegas was missing four players in its 3-0 loss in Game 6 at Minnesota on Wednesday: defenseman Brayden McNabb and forwards Ryan Reaves, Max Pacioretty and Tomas Nosek.
McNabb, who often matches up against the opponent’s top players, was unavailable due to the NHL COVID-19 protocol. He missed Game 4 with an undisclosed injury.
“I don’t have any updates on him,” Golden Knights coach Peter DeBoer said. “I mean, it’s pretty simple. You get a test back and you get isolated. It’s that simple.”
Reaves, Vegas’ most physical forward, was out for an undisclosed reason.
“It wasn’t a healthy scratch, so we’ll have an update on that tomorrow,” DeBoer said.
Pacioretty, who led the Golden Knights with 24 goals in the regular season, hasn’t played since May 1, missing the last six regular-season games and the first six games of this series because of an undisclosed injury. DeBoer consistently has called Pacioretty day to day and a game-time decision and said Wednesday that Pacioretty was skating but gave no details.
Nosek, a depth forward, has missed the past four games.
This is the third time in three seasons the Golden Knights have lost Games 5 and 6 to be forced into Game 7.
In 2019, when DeBoer was coach of the San Jose Sharks, the Golden Knights were eliminated by the Sharks in the Western Conference First Round. Last season, DeBoer’s first with Vegas, they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference Second Round.
“I think it’s a new year,” Golden Knights forward Reilly Smith said. “It doesn’t really matter. It’s an opportunity to come out in your home arena with all your fans excited and full of emotion. So, you know, it’s the stuff that we dreamed about as kids.”
The Golden Knights lost Game 1 1-0 in overtime, then won three in a row by a combined score of 12-3. Now they have lost two straight by a combined score of 7-2 and were shut out for the second time.
The line of Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson and Smith has not scored in a point in three games.
Shea Theodore has not scored a point in the series and has no points in his past 11 games dating to May 5. He scored 42 points (eight goals, 34 assists) this season to rank fourth on the Golden Knights and tie for seventh among NHL defensemen.
The Vegas power play is 2-for-14 in the series.
“I think you’ve got two good defensive teams,” DeBoer said. “It wasn’t for lack of effort [in Game 6]. I think it was a really hard-fought game at ice level both ways, and there wasn’t a lot of looks. As the game went on, you felt like whoever got that first goal was probably going to win, and that’s what happened.”
The Wild are 3-0 in Game 7, the Golden Knights are 1-1. DeBoer is 5-0 as an NHL coach.
The winner will play the Colorado Avalanche in the second round.
“This is what it’s all about,” DeBoer said. “This is why you work your [behind] off all season to have the record you have to host this game in your building (T-Mobile Arena) and give yourself the best opportunity. Coming into this series, I think there were probably a lot of bets that this was going to be a six- or seven-game series, two evenly matched teams.
“You know, we’ve obviously hit some injury trouble here with I think four regulars out tonight. You know, that hasn’t helped, but we’ve got to find a way, and we’re excited about an opportunity to win a Game 7 and move on.”