|4:00 PM PT5:00 PM MT6:00 PM CT7:00 PM ET0:00 GMT8:00 5:00 PM MST7:00 PM EST4:00 UAE (+1)19:00 ETNaN:� BRT, February 2, 2019
BB&T Center, Sunrise, Florida Attendance: 15,202
Golden Knights, Panthers seek bounce-backs on short rest
The Vegas Golden Knights and Florida Panthers, who both sputtered out of their bye-week breaks with losses on Friday night, will get a chance to turn things around quickly when they meet on the tail end of back-to-backs Saturday night in Sunrise, Fla.
The defending Western Conference champion Golden Knights (29-20-4, 62 points) trail first place Calgary by nine points in the Pacific Division and are three points behind second place San Jose. They began a four-game road trip with a 5-2 loss at Carolina, the team's third consecutive loss, matching its longest losing streak of the season.
"We weren't brutal but we weren't good enough to win," Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said. "I thought (the Hurricanes) played a pretty good game and their goalie (Petr Mrazek) made some key saves at some key times."
The Golden Knights elected to give Maxime Lagace his first start of the season in net over All-Star Marc-Andre Fleury, who leads the league in games (45), wins (27) and shutouts (six) and is expected to get the start against the Panthers.
Lagace, playing in just 17th career NHL game, finished with 27 saves.
"He was fine," Gallant said. "He played hard, he competed hard, and he battled hard. Fine for his first game this year for us."
The same couldn't be said for the Golden Knights offensively. Vegas looked sluggish after its nine-day break, finishing with just 25 shots on goal. Defenseman Shea Theodore scored both goals for the Golden Knights.
Florida, coming off an 11-day break, had a three-game win streak snapped by the visiting Nashville Predators in a 4-1 loss. That contest came just hours after the team shipped centers Nick Bjugstad and Jared McCann to the Pittsburgh Penguins for centers Derick Brassard and Riley Sheahan and a trio of 2019 draft picks.
"We got two good players that can help us in the run here, that have experience and have talent and fit a need for us," Panthers general manager Dale Tallon told NHL.com.
The Panthers (20-21-8, 48 points), who are in sixth place in the Atlantic Division, are 11 points behind Columbus for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
"It's an 82-game schedule, not a 34-game schedule," Tallon told the Miami Herald before Friday night's loss. "That's the message. I'm not going to put up with it anymore."
Florida led Nashville, 1-0, on Jonathan Huberdeau's second-period goal, but the Predators scored three goals on three consecutive shots early in the third period to pull it out.
"We just couldn't find the next goal to build the lead," Florida coach Bob Boughner said. "In a 1-0 game against a team like that, that's what can happen to you."
Boughner said he didn't learn of the trade of Bjugstad and McCann until after his team's morning skate.
"I knew there was a possibility of something going down, but really didn't find out until probably 11 o'clock," he said. "We were planning on having a different lineup in there tonight. ... Unfortunately, those guys couldn't get in for the game. That would have helped but I'm excited to see them tomorrow.
"I know Derick. I coached him in Columbus when I was there. We're getting two quality guys with playoff experience. Veteran help, and I think that's going to help us down the stretch."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 2, 2019
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