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Preview: Coyotes at Golden Knights

by Dave Vest @davest4yotes / Coyotes Sr. Director of News Content

GAME 81:

Coyotes (38-34-8) at Golden Knights (43-30-7) 

Still alive in the race for the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference, Arizona will play its final road game of the regular season on Thursday night in Las Vegas.

WHERE: T-Mobile Arena | WHEN: 7 p.m. (AZ time) | TV: FOX Sports Arizona | RADIO: AZ Sports 98.7 FM 

Tweet from @FOXSPORTSAZ: Hey @tysonnash say it louder for the people in the back: NOT. OVER. YET. #OurPack


• Arizona will enter the game with 84 points, four behind Colorado, which owns the second wildcard spot in the Western Conference standings. Both teams have two games left. Colorado hosts Winnipeg on Thursday.

• The Coyotes, who've posted a 2-3-3 record vs. the Knights since Vegas joined the League last season, are seeking their third straight victory at T-Mobile Arena. 

Darcy Kuemper, who suffered an upper-body injury in the third period of Tuesday's game vs. Los Angeles, is expected to make his 22nd start in a row, which would tie the second longest such streak in franchise history set by Nikolai Khabibulin in 1995-96. Khabibulin holds the franchise record with 41 straight starts in 1996-97. Head Coach Rick Tocchet said Kuemper told him he's ready to play, but a final decision would not be made until a few hours before puck drop.

"He feels good," Head Coach Rick Tocchet said. "He told me that he's ready to go, but we'll wait until this afternoon (to decide). It's one of those things where 'Picks' (Calvin Pickard) is ready to go and 'Kuemps' is ready to go. Obviously, if 'Kuemps' gives me the thumbs up, he's going to go."

Video: Tocchet: 'I Don't Have To Say Anything'

Vinnie Hinostroza, who leads the team in road scoring with 23 points (10 goals, 13 assists), will enter the game with a three-game point streak.

•  The Coyotes are leading the NHL in penalty killing at 85.2 percent, and have allowed just 33 power-play goals this season with two games left. The franchise record for the fewest power-play goals allowed in a non-lockout shortened season is 36 set during the 2011-12 campaign.

Derek Stepan is averaging a point per game over eight career games vs. Vegas.  

Video: Connauton Discusses Challenge Of Playing At Vegas


Vegas, the defending Western Conference champs, will head back to the Stanly Cup Playoffs for a second consecutive season, this time as the No. 3 seed from the Pacific Division ... The Golden Knights have slumped lately, having won just one of their past six games (1-3-2) ... Jonathan Marchessault leads the team in points (58) and goals (25) ... Reilly Smith has dished a team-high 34 assists ... Ryan Reaves ranks first in the NHL with 304 hits; William Carrier is fourth with 274 ... Mark Stone has notched four goals and six assists in 17 games since coming to Vegas in a trade with Ottawa back in February ... Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has not played since March 15 because of a lower-body injury, but has practiced with the team this week. Vegas on Tuesday assigned goalie Max Lagace to the American Hockey League in a move that signals Fleury's likely return to the net for this game. Fleury ranks fourth in the League with 35 wins and second in shutouts with eight.  

Tweet from @ArizonaCoyotes: Tonight's lineup in Vegas:


• "We obviously need some guys to play better for us, but overall as a team, everybody's coming in here with a good attitude. I thought we had a good practice (on Wednesday) and the energy was there ... The bottom line is these guys know what's at stake. Sometimes a coach needs to leave players alone. The last thing they need is me in their ear talking about how big this game is. What is that going to do? They know it's big. I don't have to say anything. They're smart guys." -- Rick Tocchet

• "We're looking forward to our game in Vegas. We have to match the intensity level in that building, and with where we're at in the season and what's at stake, I expect we'll do that. We're still in this race, and we have to put as much heat on Colorado as we can. If we can take care of business in Vegas and then at home on Saturday, you never know."  -- Alex Goligoski

• "They're a really good team, obviously built for a (Stanley) Cup run ... They play fast, they play hard, and they kind of play like us. We've just got to play our game and we'll be fine." -- Conor Garland

Video: Garland: 'They Kind Of Play Like Us'

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