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Vegas Golden Knights hope to solve playoff scoring slump vs. Minnesota Wild

The Vegas Golden Knights head into Game 2 of their first-round postseason series with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night in Las Vegas trying to solve what has become a major problem for the team come playoff time: scoring.

The Golden Knights, who scored five or more goals in 20 of their 56 regular-season games, were blanked by Cam Talbot and the Wild 1-0 in overtime in Sunday’s series opener.

Vegas failed to score despite racking up 42 shots on goal, including a 19-5 edge in the first period.

It continued a troublesome trend for Peter DeBoer’s normally high-scoring squad in the playoffs.

Vegas scored just four goals, two of them empty-netters, in its final three games of its second-round series with Vancouver last season as Thatcher Demko put together a 138:40 scoreless streak. The Golden Knights outshot the Canucks 127-54 during that three-game span.

Vegas then managed just eight goals over five games before being eliminated 4-1 by the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference finals.

Toss in Sunday’s loss and the Golden Knights have scored just 12 goals, including two empty-netters, in their past nine playoff games.

“We’ve got to find ways to score,” said Vegas captain Mark Stone, who was credited with just one shot on goal Sunday. “It’s not just finding dirty areas. You’ve got to find loose pucks. You just can’t rely on taking 40, 45 shots. When you get grade-A’s, you’ve got to bear down and score. And we had lots of those.”

DeBoer said, “I thought we had good enough looks to score a couple of goals. It’s not like they smothered us defensively. They’re a very good defensive team and have been for a long time. It’s going to be tough, and with (Max Pacioretty) out of the lineup, we’ve got to have some other guys finish chances. I thought we had enough looks to get one.”

Pacioretty, who led the team with 24 goals, has been out since sustaining an undisclosed injury in a May 1 win at Arizona.

“I think it’s trending in the right direction,” DeBoer said Monday when asked about Pacioretty’s potential return. “I’m not lying when I say it’s day-to-day. I really feel like that, but we won’t know until tomorrow if he’s ready to go.”

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say Game 2 is a must-win for Vegas, especially considering the opponent. Minnesota improved to 12-2-3 all-time against the Golden Knights, including 6-1-2 this season. And Vegas is the only NHL team to never win a regulation game at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul.

One stat in the Golden Knights’ favor: Vegas is 3-0 in Game 2s in its history after dropping Game 1.

Talbot picked up his fifth career playoff shutout with three different teams. Per NHL Stats, only Curtis Joseph (four teams) had shutouts for more clubs in the playoffs.

Joel Eriksson Ek’s goal at 3:20 into overtime won it for the Wild and also snapped a personal nine-game winning streak for Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.

Eriksson Ek’s goal from the slot deflected off the skate of defenseman Alec Martinez through Fleury’s pads and came after Marcus Foligno forced a turnover along the right boards from Alex Pietrangelo. Jordan Greenway then picked up the puck at the end boards and passed it to the front of the goal, where Foligno deflected it to Ek.

“This is just the start for us in the series,” said the 6-foot-6, 241-pound Greenway, who was credited with 11 of Minnesota’s eye-popping 71 hits in the contest. “We feel there’s definitely more that we can do.”

–Field Level Media