Coyotes look to prey on Knights' shaky home form
The Vegas Golden Knights have been pointing toward a home-friendly schedule over the final two months of the regular season as the time they could make their push toward repeating as Pacific Division champions.
One problem: The Golden Knights, who host the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night, suddenly can't find a way to win on their home ice.
Vegas comes into the Tuesday night contest with a three-game home losing streak. That's just one defeat off the team record.
The Golden Knights are set to play the second game of a four-game homestand, part of a stretch in which they will play seven of eight games at home.
Vegas has dropped four of its past five contests at T-Mobile Arena. The last two home losses were by one goal, to the Nashville Predators, 2-1, on Jan. 23 and Saturday night to the Columbus Blue Jackets, 4-3. Despite the recent slump, the Golden Knights are still an impressive 16-7-3 on their home ice.
Still, there is little room for error for Gerard Gallant's squad, which sits in third place in the Pacific.
The loss to the Blue Jackets was particularly painful for the Golden Knights, who had snapped a four-game losing streak with impressive back-to-back road wins at Eastern Conference leading Tampa Bay (3-2) and Detroit (4-3).
Vegas seemed on its way to a third straight victory when it took 3-2 a lead on Cody Eakin's goal with 10:39 left in the third period, but Columbus to won it behind two Cam Atkinson goals, including the decisive tally on the power play with 2:39 remaining.
"We've got to do a better job to get some wins in here," said defenseman Jon Merrill, who had a short-handed goal in the loss to the Blue Jackets.
Vegas defenseman Nate Schmidt, who also had a goal in the game, added, "It feels like we scored and stopped playing. We didn't play a great overall game and we still had a chance to win a hockey game in the third period. We've got to do something about that."
Vegas is just 4-6-0 in its past 10 games.
"When you look at our past 10 games, there are a number of them we'd like to have back," Golden Knights defenseman Shea Theodore said. "I think going forward we have to do better and we have to execute better."
Arizona snapped a five-game losing streak with a 3-2 victory over the visiting Dallas Stars on Saturday afternoon. The Coyotes, who are six points out of the second Western Conference wild-card spot, play four of their next six on the road before opening a seven-game homestand.
Center Alex Galchenyuk had two goals, including what proved to be the game-winner early in the third period, and also had an assist to lead Arizona past Dallas. The win snapped a nine-game, head-to-head losing streak to the Stars dating back to March 2016.
"This was an important win," Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. "We had to have that win today, and it was a nice win. The Stars are fighting for a playoff spot, too, and they've got some high-end guys that I thought we shut down until the end."
"We knew it was a big game," Arizona defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson told reporters. "I thought the whole team play good. ... We got the win, and that's huge for us."
The Tuesday contest will be the third of four meetings between the two teams. Vegas won the first two, 3-2 in overtime on Nov. 21 and 5-1 on Dec. 30, both in Glendale, Ariz.
--Field Level Media
Updated February 11, 2019