As the third week of the 2021-22 NHL season gets rolling, we have two captivating games on the docket on Tuesday night. At 8 p.m. ET on ESPN, two Western juggernauts take aim at one another as the Vegas Golden Knights visit the Colorado Avalanche. At 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and Hulu, the surprising San Jose Sharks square off with the Nashville Predators.
To help get you ready for the matchups, we’ve put together a guide on all the key players to watch for both teams, in-depth statistical insights on the teams from ESPN Stats & Information, and more.
This season, ESPN+ will broadcast 75 exclusive regular-season games, with ABC and ESPN airing a combined 28 exclusive regular-season contests for a total of 103 games. The complete broadcast schedule can be found here.
Vegas Golden Knights at Colorado Avalanche
8 p.m. ET | Watch live on ESPN
Line: Avalanche -170 | Over/under: 6
Leading scorer: Chandler Stephenson (4 points)
The Golden Knights are the only team left without a power-play goal this season (0-for-11), but they’ve had no more than three chances in any game this season. Only the Boston Bruins (3:36) have a lower rate of power-play time per game this season than Vegas (3:48).
Vegas is 1-3-0 this season when scoring the first goal, tied with the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings for the most regulation losses in that situation this season. Last season, the Golden Knights were 31-3-2 when scoring first, the most wins and best win percentage in that situation.
The Golden Knights are without Max Pacioretty and Mark Stone, who are the team’s top two point scorers since Stone made his Vegas debut in February 2019 (Stone: 138, Pacioretty: 128). The Golden Knights are 0-3-0 when Pacioretty and Stone both do not play (all coming this season) and 82-36-11 when both do play.
Reilly Smith has taken 18 shots on goal but has yet to score, the second-most shots on goal among NHL forwards with zero goals, trailing only Winnipeg’s Nikolaj Ehlers, who has 22.
Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner is 1-4-0 this season, which already matches his regulation loss total from all last season in 19 starts (13-4-2). Lehner’s all-situations save percentage is 29th in the NHL, at .904, and 37th at even strength, at .903.
Leading scorers: Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon (5 points)
Mikko Rantanen has a point in each of the first five games of the season, and goals in three straight games. He is looking to start a season with points in the first six games for the third time in his career (in 2018-19 and 2019-20).
Nathan MacKinnon has scored 359 points since the start of the 2017-18 season. The only players with more in that span are Connor McDavid (439) and Leon Draisaitl (380). MacKinnon’s cap hit is $6.3 million for this season and next season, before he becomes an unrestricted free agent. MacKinnon’s cap hit ranks 94th among active players, according to CapFriendly.
Cale Makar is averaging 0.92 points per game in his career, which is the second-highest rate of any defenseman (minimum 100 games played) since he made his regular-season NHL debut in 2019-20, trailing only John Carlson.
The Avalanche came into Monday with the 30th-best power-play percentage, at 10% (2-for-20). Their two power-play goals are the team’s fewest through the first five games since 2014-15, when they had one. Last season, Colorado had 10 power-play goals in its first five games.
San Jose Sharks at Nashville Predators
8:30 p.m. ET | Watch live on ESPN+
Line: Predators -135 | Over/under: 6
Leading scorers: Logan Couture, Timo Meier (8 points)
The Sharks are wrapping up a five-game road trip where they have started 3-1-0. According to NHL Stats & Info, there have been three instances in franchise history where they have collected at least eight points in their first five road games of a single season: 4-1-0 in 1999-00; 4-1-0 in 2000-01; and 4-1-0 in 2011-12.
San Jose is looking for its first 5-1-0 (or better) overall start since 2013-14, when the Sharks began the season 6-0-0, and sixth start of 5-1-0 or better in franchise history overall.
Logan Couture and Timo Meier each enter the game with points in all five games to start the season. It’s the first time a Sharks player has started the season with at least a five-game point streak since Brent Burns in 2016-17. The last Sharks players to go further with a point streak to begin a season were Couture and Patrick Marleau in 2013-14 (Marleau extended his streak to the team’s first eight games).
Defenseman Brent Burns enters Monday with the most career goals (217) and points (726) among active NHL blueliners. Burns won the Norris Trophy as the best defenseman in 2016-17, and then finished runner-up in 2018-19 as he led all defensemen with 83 points (a 1.01 points-per-game pace). The past two seasons have seen his production drop, to 0.64 points per game in 2019-20 and 0.52 points per game in 2020-21.
Goaltender James Reimer, who is on his third team in the past four seasons, has stopped 50 of 51 shots (.980 save percentage), the best save percentage of any goalie to appear in more than one game this season. Adin Hill, who came to the Sharks via trade from the Arizona Coyotes in July and then re-signed for two years in August, has an .890 save percentage to begin the season. According to Stathletes, Hill’s even-strength save percentage is 1.5% below expectation, which ranks 33rd among 47 goalies to appear in more than one game this season.
Leading scorer: Roman Josi (7 points)
The Predators handed the Minnesota Wild their first loss of the season in a 5-2 win on Sunday. Connor Ingram made his NHL debut and stopped 33 of 35 shots, joining Pekka Rinne as the only Predators goalies to win in their NHL debut.
Nashville has reached the postseason in seven straight seasons, tied with the Washington Capitals for the second-longest active streak, and trailing only the Pittsburgh Penguins (15) for the longest such streak. The Predators made it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, but have won one playoff series since (2018 first round vs. the Avalanche).
The Predators are 0-3-0 this season when trailing after the first period, tied with the Coyotes and Seattle Kraken for the most such losses this season.
Roman Josi enters Monday tied for the league lead in goals by defensemen (3) with Kevin Shattenkirk, and tied in points by defensemen, with 7, matching Drew Doughty and Victor Hedman. Josi is the all-time leader in points by a player born in Switzerland (453).
Juuse Saros is taking over the goaltending duties in Nashville from the legendary Pekka Rinne, who retired this offseason. Rinne is the Predators’ all-time goalie leader in games played (683), starts (667), wins (369), saves (17,627) and shutouts (60). Saros is one of five Finnish netminders to play in a game this season, joining Edmonton’s Mikko Koskinen, Chicago’s Kevin Lankinen, Columbus’ Joonas Korpisalo and Minnesota’s Kaapo Kahkonen. Finland and Russia, with five apiece, trail Sweden (six) among countries outside North America to have the most goalies appear in at least one game this season, per NHL Stats & Info.
Saros went on a tear down the stretch last season that helped get the Predators into the playoffs. He went 16-6-1 in his final 23 regular-season starts with a .941 save percentage and 1.90 goals-against average.
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