The Vegas Golden Knights will try to snap a three-game home losing streak on Wednesday night when they host the Arizona Coyotes in Las Vegas.
Vegas, which enjoyed one of the National Hockey League’s strongest home-ice advantages in its first five seasons, is now below .500 (8-9-0) at home following a 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Monday. The Golden Knights haven’t won a home game in regulation in almost a month dating back to a 4-1 victory over Ottawa on Nov. 23.
Vegas is just 1-6-0 in seven home contests since that victory with the win coming in overtime, 2-1, over the struggling Philadelphia Flyers on Dec. 9. The Golden Knights have also been outscored 26-11 during that span.
Still, thanks to a 13-2-0 start to the season and a current 14-2-1 road record, Vegas enters Tuesday’s action with a Western Conference-best 45 points and a six-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division.
“Thank God we’re winning on the road because our home record is pretty atrocious,” forward Reilly Smith, who has scored five goals in the last three games, said. “We’ve done a good job putting ourselves in a good spot, but we have to start picking up some wins because teams will catch us, and it’s easy to slip.”
The loss to the Sabres was especially frustrating since Vegas, which is just 9-9-1 over its last 19 games, outshot Buffalo, 43-18, in the contest, including 23-5 in the third period. But Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made a career-high 41 saves, including a third-period penalty shot by Jonathan Marchessault, and stopped four breakaways.
“We just didn’t find enough goals,” Smith said. “That’s pretty much all it came down to because the chances were there.”
Arizona also comes in off a frustrating home loss on Monday. The Coyotes fell to Montreal, 3-2, on a Mike Hoffman goal 1:08 into overtime despite outshooting the Canadiens, 39-26, including 33-17 over the first two periods. But Montreal goalie Samuel Montembeault was up to the challenge in stopping 37 shots.
“That was our best offensive game (of the year),” Arizona coach Andre Tourigny said. “We had a lot of Grade-A’s, a lot of offensive zone time. … (But) the only thing that is important is the (score)board and, at the end, unfortunately, the board was not friendly tonight.”
Nick Schmaltz and rookie Matias Maccelli scored goals for the Coyotes, who are just 6-12-3 on the road this season.
“I thought we played pretty well,” Schmaltz said. “Obviously, we would have liked to end it before overtime, because in overtime anything can happen. We played well enough to get two points, but it’s a tough league to win in and sometimes you don’t get rewarded.”
“It was just one of those games that (was) crazy,” added defenseman Jakob Chychrun. “We had all the (offensive) zone time in the world and great looks, but they were opportunistic. They didn’t have nearly as many chances as we did but they capitalized. We did a lot of good things. Just sucks we couldn’t come out with a win.”
This is the second meeting between the two teams. Vegas, behind a goal and two assists by defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, won the first on Nov. 17 in Tempe, Ariz., 4-1.