Knights, Predators to tangle in final game before break

The Nashville Predators and Vegas Golden Knights both head into an eight-day break following Wednesday night's game in Las Vegas. And with both teams involved in mini-slumps, a victory at T-Mobile Arena would make the time off a lot more enjoyable for one of them.

That's particularly true for the defending Western Conference champion Golden Knights, who are just 2-3 in their last five games, including rare regulation home losses to San Jose and Minnesota. Vegas, which going into Tuesday's action was seven points behind first-place Calgary and one point behind second-place San Jose in the Pacific Division, embarks on a difficult four-game East Coast road trip after the break.

Nashville, which is 2-4 in its last six games, could move into a tie for first place with Winnipeg with a victory, although the Jets will have four games in hand when they return to action after the All-Star break.

Vegas, which is 16-5-3 on home ice, comes in off a 4-2 loss to visiting Minnesota on Monday afternoon. That followed an emotional 7-3 home victory over Pittsburgh on Saturday night, and head coach Gerard Gallant made no attempt to hide his disdain for his team's lack of energy in the most recent contest.

"Saturday was fun and we got a great win out of that," Gallant said in his postgame press conference. "Professional players move on from that. Middle of the afternoon, 3 p.m., and I don't think everybody woke up for it.

"I don't think we played good (against the Wild). I don't think we showed up ready to play a team that was aggressive for points. I don't think we played hard enough. ... I don't think we played good. That's not everybody, but it's a fair amount."


Gallant was asked how he thought his team would respond for Wednesday night's contest against the Predators, who handed Vegas a 4-1 loss in the only previous meeting between the two teams this season on Oct. 30 in Nashville.

"I hope we are ready to play," Gallant said. "I'm sure Nashville is going to be a tough team. They are going to come in and they are going to be a buzz saw. We have to compete hard and we've got to be better."

The Predators come in off a 4-1 victory at Colorado on Monday afternoon that ended a two-game losing streak. It was the 600th career coaching victory for head coach Peter Laviolette, who became the 20th head coach in NHL history to reach that milestone and just the second American to achieve it.

"We're all happy for him," said Nick Bonino, who scored his 100th career goal in the win. "Six hundred is a lot of wins so that's a great milestone."

The victory also put Nashville nine points ahead of third-place Minnesota in the Central Division in the battle for home ice in the playoffs.

"It's huge for us," said Bonino, who also had an assist. "We wanted to respond. We had some meetings. We figured it out. We just have to keep going in the right direction. ... Our focus is going forward here."

Viktor Arvidsson scored the game-winner with a highlight-reel wraparound goal, his team-leading 19th of the season and 10th in January.

Center Ryan Johansen, who leads the Preds in points (42) and assists (34), is eligible to return Wednesday after serving a two-game suspension for high-sticking Winnipeg center Mark Scheifele in a 5-1 loss to the Jets last Thursday.

--Field Level Media

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