Peter DeBoer will coach his first game at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas since his firing by Vegas last May when the Dallas Stars play a Monday afternoon matinee against the Golden Knights.
DeBoer compiled a 98-50-12 mark in two-plus seasons at Vegas, coaching the Golden Knights to conference finals in both 2020 and 2021. But he was fired after an injury-plagued 43-31-8 campaign last season that saw Vegas fail to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in franchise history.
A little over a month later, Dallas hired DeBoer to replace Rick Bowness.
Dallas entered Sunday’s play in a points tie with Winnipeg for first place in the Central Division, while Vegas held a two-point edge over both Seattle and Los Angeles in the Pacific Division.
Ironically, DeBoer and his replacement with the Golden Knights, Bruce Cassidy, both earned the right to coach their division teams in the NHL All-Star Game on Feb. 4 in Sunrise, Fla. Cassidy said he and DeBoer have coached together in the past on Team Canada staffs and also at coaches’ clinics at the NHL Draft.
“There does become a bond over time … It will be good to see him,” Cassidy said. “I know he’s going to be highly-motivated to come in here and play well so our team should understand that.”
Dallas, in the midst of a stretch that sees them play 14 of 19 games on the road, will be trying to avoid its first three-game losing streak of the season after back-to-back one-goal losses.
The Stars lost in New York to the Rangers 2-1 in overtime on Thursday when K’Andre Miller scored the tying goal with 0.2 seconds left in regulation and Adam Fox followed with the game-winner 1:16 into overtime. Dallas then made a quick pit-stop home before starting another three-game Western road trip and lost 6-5 to Calgary on Saturday afternoon.
The Stars fell behind 2-0 in the first 8:10 against the Flames and trailed 6-1 late in the second period before rallying behind a pair of third-period goals by Joe Pavelski, soon cutting it to 6-5 with 4:37 left on a point shot blast by Colin Miller.
“Just didn’t play well enough for long enough,” DeBoer said. “I think that’s the bottom line. You’re down 2-0 it feels like before the puck even drops. This time of year against good teams you dig a hole like that it’s hard to dig out of. Yeah, we played well down the stretch there in the third, but too big of a hole.
“I think losing this game is a reminder to us that we have to show up and play 60 minutes,” DeBoer added. “Credit to our guys. We haven’t rolled over all year. We haven’t mailed it in. We’ve always got off the mat and battled back. I expect we’ll do the same thing again.”
This will be the fifth game of a season-long seven-game homestand for the Golden Knights, who have surprisingly struggled at home this season. Vegas is just 13-11-0 at T-Mobile Arena and has dropped two of its last three, including a 4-3 loss to Edmonton on Saturday night.
The Golden Knights fell behind 2-0 in the first 1:42 on goals by Mattias Janmark and Leon Draisaitl and trailed 4-2 midway through the second period. William Karlsson cut it to 4-3 at the 19:18 mark of the period but Vegas managed just nine shots against the tight-checking Oilers in the third period to lose its sixth straight game against Pacific Division opposition.
“We just played a game where I feel that we should be highly-motivated as well,” Cassidy said. “I would expect two teams bringing their better games.”
–Field Level Media