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First Round

Gusev unlikely to debut for Golden Knights in Game 5 against Sharks

Vegas coach says no lineup changes planned with lead in series

by Danny Webster / Correspondent

LAS VEGAS -- Nikita Gusev got no guarantees from the Vegas Golden Knights that he would play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the newly signed forward said he'll be ready if needed.

The Golden Knights lead the San Jose Sharks 3-1 in the Western Conference First Round. Game 5 of the best-of-7 series is at San Jose on Thursday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS, NBCSCA, ATTSN-RM).

Vegas signed Gusev to a one-year, entry-level contract Sunday. He played the past four seasons with SKA St. Petersburg in the Kontinental Hockey League, leading the league with 82 points (17 goals, 65 assists) thsi season after winning the MVP award last season.


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"That would be awesome for me. I can't wait to debut in an NHL game," Gusev said through a translator Wednesday. "It's about the team. I just want to help the team. If coaches and the team need me, I will be prepared for the game and show the best I can.

"I've done a lot of stuff in the KHL throughout, but now I want to play in the best league in the world. That's my goal."

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant said he is in no rush to make changes.

"He's working hard and getting in shape," Gallant said. "The guy just finished playing [in the KHL playoffs], so it's not like he has bad conditioning. I've got a good lineup right now. I'm happy with it, so it's more of that than him, trust me."

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Gusev said he is looking forward to playing at T-Mobile Arena after experiencing the environment for Games 3 and 4.

"I really like it," he said. "It's just a crazy atmosphere."

Gusev has yet to take part in a full practice with Vegas, but he said the Golden Knights run the same system he played in Russia.

"The team, the staff, the coaches, the general manager (George McPhee) have made it really easy for me to adjust," Gusev said.

Vegas acquired Gusev in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft in correspondence with Vegas selecting defenseman Jason Garrison. Tampa Bay selected Gusev in the seventh round (No. 202) in the 2012 NHL Draft.

Gusev said he's appreciative to former NHL all-star Pavel Datsyuk for being a mentor and teammate. Datsyuk, who played 14 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings from 2001-02 to 2015-16, has been captain of SKA for the past three seasons.

"He told me good luck and to take care of myself, and to not be scared to play the right way," Gusev said. "I'm thankful for all his help and the chemistry I have with him."

Gusev watched from afar when the Golden Knights went to the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season in 2017-18. He is eager to be a part of that.

"We're going to win," he said. "It's going to be a pleasure. It's a big moment [for me]."

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