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Blues vs. Golden Knights game preview; Old friends return to Vegas

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James Neal St. Louis Blues forward

After getting a much-needed early-season five-day break, the Vegas Golden Knights return to action tonight, hosting the St. Louis Blues in a nationally televised game on TNT to start a critical three-games-in-five-nights stretch at T-Mobile Arena.

Friday, they’ll have to deal with Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Sunday, the New York Islanders are the opponent. Then it’s off to Denver and Dallas for back-to-back road games Tuesday vs. the Avalanche and Wednesday against the Stars.

“We’re about to get into the meat of our schedule,” coach Peter DeBoer said. “These are very important games for us. We’re dealing with some adversity but sometimes having adversity early in the season isn’t that bad a thing.”

The Knights return with their top two scorers on the shelf. Max Pacioretty broke a bone in his left foot last Thursday in the 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Kings and is expected to miss six weeks. Mark Stone was luckier. He will not require surgery for the injury he suffered in that same game but he likely will be out for the three-game stretch at home. DeBoer characterized Stole’s status Tuesday as somewhere between day-to-day and week-to-week.”

Vague as that sounds, at least he’s not a candidate for LTIR. The Knights will have Nicolas Roy, William carrier and Brett Howden available tonight and have recalled Peyton Krebs and Jake Leschyshyn from Henderson of the AHL so the’ll be able to roll out four lines against the Blues, who have to former Golden Knights on their roster in David Perron and James Neal. It’s also another chance for Alex Pietrangelo to renew acquaintances with his old mates.

“They’re a veteran team with a number of players from their Stanley Cup team (of 2019),” DeBoer said of St. Louis. “They’ve shuffled the deck a bit, added some pieces and changed some things, but they’re still an experienced group and they’re off to a good start.”

The Blues are 2-0 with wins at Colorado and Arizona. They’ll be looking to sweep the season-beginning road trip tonight before heading home to host the Kings Saturday. Second-year center Jordan Kyrou has two goals and six points to lead St. Louis in scoring. Justin Faulk has also recorded multiple-point games in the first two contests (2-2–4). However,St. Louis will be without forward Pavel Buchnevich, who was suspended for two games by the NHL after he head-butted the Coyotes’ Lawson Crouse.

Three storylines for Wednesday:

1. Where will the scoring come from?: No Pacioretty. No Stone. That equates to the team’s top two scorers. So who makes up the difference? Will DeBoer keep his Misfits Line of Reilly Smith, William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault together? Or if everyone’s struggling to find the net, does he break up the line in an attempt to find some offense?

Chandler Stephenson has scored in each of the first two games and he’ll look to be the third player in team history to register a goal in each of the Knights’ first three games. James Neal did it in 2017-18 and Pacioretty accomplished the feat last season.

2. Blues duo motivated: David Perron has tortured the Golden Knights ever since they let him leave in 2018 to return to St. Louis. He has scored six goals and has 10 points vs. Vegas during his second stint with the Blues. Now, Perron is reunited with Neal, who played on the same line with him early in the Knights’ inaugural season. Like Perron, Neal was allowed to walk as a UFA from Vegas. They’ll both be fired up to skate against their former team.

3. Will returning trio be rusty?: Nicolas Roy, William Carrier and Brett Howden are playing their first games of the season tonight. Roy will be with Chandler Stephenson and Evgenii Dadonov while Carrier and Howden will be paired together as part of the fourth line. How much rink rust will the trio need to shed? Or can they make an impact immediately?

Blues vs. Golden Knights

  • When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: 1340-AM
  • 2021-22 records: St. Louis 2-0; Vegas 1-1
  • 2021 regular season series: Vegas won, 6-2
  • All-time series: Vegas leads 9-8
  • Line (from Westgate SuperBook): Vegas -122; Total 5 1/2 Over -120.

Golden Knights projected lineup vs. Blues

Forwards: Nicolas Roy-Chandler Stephenson-Evgenii Dadonov

                   Reilly Smith-William Karlsson-Jonathan Marchessault

                     Peyton Krebs-Nolan Patrick-Keegan Kolesar

                    Jake Leschyshyn-Brett Howden-William Carrier

Defense: Alec Martinez-Alex Pietrangelo

                Brayden McNabb-Shea Theodore

                Zach Whitecloud-Nicolas Hague

Goaltenders: Robin Lehner

                     Laurent Brossoit

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