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Morning Skate Report: February 5, 2021

Golden Knights and Kings open weekend set at T-Mobile Arena

by Gordon Weigers @GoldenKnights /

After an unexpected eight-day hiatus due to COVID-19 protocols, the Vegas Golden Knights return to action as they host the Los Angeles Kings on Friday at 7 p.m. at T-Mobile Arena.

Vegas last played on Jan. 26 when it suffered a 5-4 shootout loss to the St. Louis Blues. Kelly McCrimmon stood behind the bench and served as head coach for the Golden Knights as the team's coaching staff self-isolated due to COVID-19 protocols. He was assisted by Manny Viveiros, Joel Ward and Jamie Heward of the Henderson Silver Knights.

Alex Pietrangelo entered the NHL's virus protocols last week. His return to the lineup is yet to be determined as he and the team follow the league's COVID policies, however McCrimmon confirmed Pietrangelo, a taxi squad player and three coaches who entered the protocols are healthy and well.

TV: AT&T SportsNet (pregame show at 6:30 p.m.)
Radio: FOX Sports Las Vegas 98.9/1340 (pregame show at 6 p.m.)
Fortress at Home: Facebook, YouTube and Twitch

Max Pacioretty put up his first hat trick as a Golden Knight on Jan. 26 at T-Mobile Arena, but it wasn't enough as the Blues squeezed out a 5-4 shootout win. Mark Stone collected three assists for Vegas in the game while David Perron's two goals led the way for St. Louis offensively.

Mark Stone: Stone is Vegas' leading scorer through seven games with 11 points (2G, 9A).

Shea Theodore: Theodore leads the VGK defenseman in scoring with seven points (3G, 4A) in seven games.

Max Pacioretty: Pacioretty's six goals in seven games lead the Golden Knights.

Marc-Andre Fleury: Fleury has won all three of his starts this season and has conceded just three goals. He posted his 62nd career shutout in Vegas' 1-0 win against Arizona on Sunday.

The Golden Knights struggled against the Kings in 2019-20 as Vegas took just one of the four head-to-head matchups a year ago. Vegas skated to a 5-2 win against Los Angeles on Oct. 13 at Staples Center in their first matchup of the season as the VGK power play struck three times in the win. Los Angeles got the better of the Golden Knights with a 4-3 win on Nov. 16, a 5-2 victory on Jan. 9 and a 4-1 win on March 1.

Though the Kings rank sixth in the Honda West Division as of Friday morning, they have proven they aren't an easy team to beat. Los Angeles has won just three games, but each win has come against the top three teams in the standings (St. Louis, Colorado and Minnesota). Penalty killing has not been issue for the Kings as they rank fourth in the NHL with an 87.9 percent efficiency rate while shorthanded.

Anze Kopitar has shown no signs of his production slowing down as he leads the team with 12 points (1G, 11A) in nine games. LA's veterans have been productive as Drew Doughty (3G, 4A), Jeff Carter (1G, 5A) and Dustin Brown (3G, 3A) have chipped in offensively. With a blend of established players and younger players looking to make an impact, the Kings have a deep pool to look to for scoring this season.

St. Louis Blues (7-2-1), 15 points
Colorado Avalanche (7-3-1), 15 points
Minnesota Wild (6-5-0), 12 points
Vegas Golden Knights (5-1-1), 11 points
Anaheim Ducks (4-5-2), 10 points
Los Angeles Kings (3-4-2), 8 points
Arizona Coyotes (3-5-1), 7 points
San Jose Sharks (3-5-0), 6 points

Stay tuned to the Golden Knights on Twitter for updates on the lineup.

Next Man Up: Alex Tuch referenced the team's mantra Thursday as he emphasized the "next man up" mentality the Golden Knights have had since 2017. Vegas will be ready to roll with any lineup that takes the ice Friday.

Back to Work: Stone mentioned that the team is used to having extended periods between games during a normal season through all-star breaks and bye weeks. He said he expects the team to return to form quickly.

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