NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Friday night, as the Minnesota Wild host the Vegas Golden Knights at 8:00 p.m. ET. You can watch the game online by clicking here.
The Golden Knights are coming off a history win last night, as they set the record for most wins by an expansion team, with 34. Their triumph over the Winnipeg Jets allowed them to pass the 1993-94 Anaheim Ducks and Florida Panthers, who each won 33 games during their inaugural season.
“It’s fun,” said Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, per NHL.com. “We’re not talking about breaking records and reaching records; we’re just focusing on improving as a team, playing well as a team every night, trying to be as consistent as a team and good things like this will happen.
“I’m proud and happy to see where our team is at right now.”
What a season it’s been for Vegas. No one expected them to be where they are in the standings at this point. Nobody. Heading into tonight’s tilt with the Wild, not only are they in top spot in the Pacific Division (12 points clear of anybody else), they’re also in first place in the Western Conference and second overall in the league behind Tampa Bay.
As you may have heard, the Golden Knights are particularly great at home, as their 19-3-2 record indicates. They’ll take their show on the road tonight, where they’re 15-9-2 this season.
The Wild don’t have the same cushion as their opponent. They’re actually in a full-out battle for the final playoff spots in the conference. As of right now, Minnesota is on the outside of the postseason picture, but they’re just one point behind the Colorado Avalanche for the final Wild Card spot.
There’s some good news if you’re a fan of the Wild. It sounds like forward Nino Niederreiter (lower body) will make his return to the lineup tonight. It hasn’t been confirmed, but head coach Bruce Boudreau told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that “he’s looking good” and that he’ll “probably” play.
The 25-year-old has missed the last eight games because of the injury.
The next three games will be huge for the Wild, as they have the Golden Knights tonight before they travel to take on the Stars and Blues tomorrow and Tuesday. All three teams area ahead of them in the standings.
Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.