The Vegas Golden Knights will be without their two top scorers from last season when they face the undefeated St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night in Las Vegas.
Left winger Max Pacioretty, who had 24 goals and 27 assists in 48 games in 2020-21, will be sidelined up to six weeks with a broken left ankle sustained in the team’s 6-2 loss at Los Angeles on Thursday.
Right winger Mark Stone, who led the team with the team with 40 assists and 61 points in 55 games, is also sidelined due to a lower-body injury.
The Golden Knights were already without winger Alex Tuch, who tied for third on the squad with 18 goals last season but is sidelined until at least January after undergoing shoulder surgery on July 30.
Vegas coach Peter DeBoer said that Stone, who appeared to have his right knee buckle while attempting an awkward shot, is “probably between day-to-day and week-to-week.
“He went and saw some doctors (Monday). Nothing surgical, which is good. … Good news for the most part.”
Golden Knights center Mattias Janmark also remains out while on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol. However, forwards Nicolas Roy (undisclosed), Brett Howden (lower body) and William Carrier (concussion) returned to practice during the team’s five-day break and are expected to play Wednesday night.
“We need them,” DeBoer said. “You start testing the depth of the organization if we don’t start getting some of those guys back.”
Forwards Peyton Krebs, a first round pick in 2019, and Jake Leschyshyn were also recalled from nearby Henderson (Nev.) of the American Hockey League.
With two-thirds of his top line out for a while, DeBoer said the team would need to lean on its strong defensive unit led by Alex Pietrangelo, Alec Martinez and Shea Theodore to carry more of the load.
“For sure the blue line is the strength of our team, and those guys have to play at an elite level, and I think they will,” DeBoer said. “Our goaltenders have to find another level, and our forward group as a group has to find another level with these kind of guys out.”
DeBoer said he believes that will happen.
“My history with this group is they’ve always played a little better when they’re a little scared,” he said.
St. Louis will be finishing off a three-game road trip to begin the season. It began with a 5-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. The Blues earned a 7-4 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Monday, with St. Louis scoring five goals in a 5:07 span in the second period to build a 6-2 lead.
Jordan Kyrou had two goals and two assists and Klim Kostin, taking the place of healthy scratch James Neal on the fourth line, scored two goals over a 47-second span to lead St. Louis. Kostin’s scores were the two fastest goals by a Blues player since Keith Tkachuk scored twice in 33 seconds against the Carolina Hurricanes on Nov. 1, 2001.
“It’s crazy at the start of every year, but this is a good start to the season for us,” St. Louis forward Tyler Bozak said. “Two big wins, and we’ve got to keep it rolling.”
The Blues will be without forward Pavel Buchnevich on Wednesday as the NHL handed him a two-game suspension for headbutting Arizona forward Lawson Crouse on Monday. Buchnevich also will miss St. Louis’ home opener against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.