The Vegas Golden Knights are hoping a change of scenery may snap them out of their doldrums as they visit the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday to open a four-game road trip that heads into the All-Star break.
The Golden Knights, who have lost three in a row, were blanked by Elvis Merzlikins and Columbus, 3-0, on Saturday in the finale of their season-long seven-game homestand. They will play 20 of their final 34 games away from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, including nine of the next 10.
It appears to be a daunting task for the Golden Knights, who have slid from first place in the crowded Pacific Division to the top wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The two teams right below them -- Edmonton and Winnipeg -- both hold games in hand and much more favorable home schedules down the stretch.
"We've just got to find our game back again," forward Mark Stone said. "Getting on the road, kind of getting away, getting back to that simple hockey. Sometimes when you're at home you kind of take it for granted a bit, especially when you're playing here. We're just a little bit too comfortable. I think getting on the road will be a big help for us."
The Golden Knights don't play another home game until Feb. 8, when they host Carolina. The eight-game stretch is actually split after four contests against the Sabres, Ottawa, Montreal and Boston by the All-Star break and then their bye week, a span of 10 days. Then it's off to road games at Carolina, Nashville, Tampa Bay and Florida.
No matter where the games are played, Vegas must overcome a disturbing trend of slow starts. The Golden Knights have allowed the first goal in six straight games and have fallen behind 3-0 in four consecutive contests, including 4-0 in the first period of a 5-2 loss to Los Angeles on Thursday.
"You lose a couple games in a row, it's always good to get away and get on the road," center Paul Stastny. "You only have the 23 guys and focus on basically on the guys in the locker room and that's it. Just focus on hockey and doing whatever we can to help the team win. Now we have a big road stand before the All-Star break, and we have to find a way to turn it around."
First up for the Golden Knights is a Buffalo team that is a glossy 13-6-3 at home and comes in off a 5-1 victory at Detroit on Sunday.
"Everybody just raised the bar today," Sabres coach Ralph Krueger said after the club's third win in five games.
"The compete level was high for the importance of this game. We need to carry this momentum into Las Vegas. It's going to be a big test for us here. We have no time to think very much. Get a big breath here on Monday and away we go back at home."
The Sabres are fifth in the Atlantic Division, six points behind Florida.
This is the first of two meetings between the two teams, who split their two contests last season. Buffalo defeated Vegas, 4-2, on home ice before the Golden Knights responded with a 4-1 victory.
--Field Level Media