Knights expect to welcome back key players vs. Habs
Montreal Canadiens at Vegas Golden Knights
The Montreal Canadiens and the Golden Knights will celebrate Halloween playing in Las Vegas on Thursday night, but for Vegas coach Gerard Gallant, it will feel a little more like Christmas.
Three key players -- defenseman Nate Schmidt, right wing Alex Tuch and backup goaltender Malcolm Subban -- are all expected to return from injuries, finally giving the Golden Knights the roster Gallant envisioned heading into the season.
Schmidt, who was injured when he banged knees with San Jose's Logan Couture in Vegas' 4-1, season-opening win, led the team in average time on ice (21:57) and was ninth in scoring with nine goals and 21 assists in 2018-19 despite missing 20 games with a PED suspension.
Tuch, out since sustaining an upper-body injury when he crashed into the boards in a Sept. 27 preseason game with the Los Angeles Kings, was fourth on the team in scoring last season with 20 goals and 32 assists.
Subban, who went 8-10-2 with a 2.93 goals-against as Marc-Andre Fleury's backup, sustained a lower-body injury in an Oct. 10 game at Arizona and has played just one period this season.
"Fortunately, we've gotten off to a decent start," Gallant said. "Eight-and-five (8-5-0) isn't great, but it isn't bad. We got through it, so hopefully we can stay healthy now."
All three players returned to practice on Monday, the morning after Vegas defeated the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. And although the team didn't officially activate them as of Wednesday, the Golden Knights did clear roster spots by assigning defensemen Jake Bischoff and Nicholas Hague, forward Nicolas Roy and goaltender Garret Sparks to Chicago of the AHL.
The Golden Knights are expected to add the trio prior to the Thursday contest.
"I hope so, but they're not cleared yet," Gallant said with a smile after practice on Wednesday. "They skated today, they did really well today. Skate tomorrow, and when they tell me they're ready to go, the medical staff, then they'll be ready to go. As long as they clear them, I'll put them in the lineup."
Schmidt, for one, was anxious to get back to action.
"Super awesome," he said when asked how it felt to be practicing with his team again. "Back with friends, it's really great. It is just good to feel back in the mix again."
While the Golden Knights will be well-rested thanks to a three-day break, Montreal will be playing the second half of a back-to-back that started with a 4-1 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Wednesday night in Glendale, Ariz.
Carey Price had 32 saves and Shea Weber had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who won their second straight game. The victory kicked off a three-game western road trip for Montreal that concludes on Saturday at Dallas.
"It's definitely a road trip where you don't want to get back in the standings," Jonathan Drouin, who scored the final goal in the Wednesday night win, told NHL.com. "You don't want to get lost down there. For us, these points are important."
Montreal, which improved to 3-1-2 on the road this season, swept the two meetings with Vegas last season and is 3-1-0 all-time against the Golden Knights. The Canadiens have won both meetings in Las Vegas, including a 4-3 overtime win last December when Phillip Danault scored a hat trick and Paul Byron potted the game-winner.
--Field Level Media
Updated October 31, 2019