Stone, Pacioretty return to the ice at City National Arena, still not practicing with team
LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - The Golden Knights returned to the ice Tuesday morning at City National Arena, riding a five-game winning streak, and getting a bit of good news on the injury front. Max Pacioretty and captain Mark Stone were in full gear, skating on the B rink with backup goaltender Logan Thompson prior to the VGK practice.
“(Mark Stone) and (Max) Pacioretty are skating,” said Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer. “No other update other than that. They’re not re-integrated with our group, that would be the next step on their return to play. They’re not there yet.”
DeBoer was also asked about Reilly Smith, Nic Hague, Brett Howden, and Laurent Brossoit, replying with the same status:
“Not close. There is no cavalry coming.”
One player who did return this past weekend was goaltender Robin Lehner, who had missed the previous 12 games with an undisclosed injury. The Panda made 26 saves in the 3-2 overtime, for his 22nd victory of the season.
“Fairly good, nice to get a win. Always a little rusty coming back, it was three, four weeks, but nice to get into it in the last push, so we need to keep going.”
During Lehner’s absence, rookie netminder Logan Thompson made eight straight starts, going 6-2 in that span, while also earning his first career shutout.
“The race to the finish line here, a big part of this is who’s getting the best goaltending down the stretch,” explained DeBoer. “That’s not a secret, I think it’s the same come playoff time. We’re setup, both guys are in a good place and now it’s a matter of getting out there and getting the job done.”
“I feel I’m close, but this time of year I need to be better than my 100%,” explained Lehner. “Its time to raise the bar, all of us. We need to win, and there is no other options. Just being good is not good enough right now so we just have to keep going.”
Lehner was absent on the ice, as well as online recently. One of the most active NHL players on social media, Lehner deactivated his account recently.
“Many different reasons, none that we need to get into here. Thought it was time, it’s unfortunate, it’s been a very good tool to help a lot of people, but it’s also been a good tool that’s not been good for me,” admitted Lehner. “At the end of the day I have to take care of myself first, it’s not been an easy climate for me out there. I’ve been fine with that before, but sometimes enough is enough.”
Tuesday morning the Golden Knights woke up in the second and final wild card spot in the Western Conference, tied with Nashville at 82 points. The Predators and the Dallas Stars who sit one point behind Vegas, both have three games in hand on the VGK. Monday night the Kings lost in regulation to Calgary, keeping Vegas within four points of Los Angeles, with a game in hand. DeBoer says it’s scoreboard watching season, not just for the fans, but the team as well.
“You try not to, but you do. I watched LA through there road trip there, they kept winning and I stopped watching. Then when someone starts to lose you tune in. We’re trying to stay in our game. We just have to continue to win games and hope one of those spots stumbles. That’s where we’re at. I don’t have an idea which one, I don’t have a preference, just let us have a ticket to the dance.”
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