The Vegas Golden Knights have lost six of their last seven games heading into Saturday night's regular-season finale at Los Angeles.
But with a first round Stanley Cup series with San Jose on the horizon, head coach Gerard Gallant doesn't seem too worried about trying to get a win and building momentum heading into the playoffs.
"I can't wait until tomorrow's game is over with," Gallant said after practice on Friday afternoon. "You've got to go play that game and try and get through the game and stay healthy, play a good solid game and work hard, and then you get ready for the big thing on Wednesday or Thursday."
Vegas comes in off a 4-1 home loss to Arizona on Thursday, a game that featured second and third periods that Gallant called, "our worst hockey of the year." Still, the Golden Knights coach didn't lose any sleep over the poor showing.
"You forget about it and move on," Gallant said. "We know that's not our team."
With the Golden Knights (43-31-7, 93 points) having been essentially locked into a first-round matchup with the San Jose Sharks since mid-March, Gallant said it wasn't surprising for his squad to lose its mental focus down the stretch.
"Our playoffs were when we got Mark Stone (just before the NHL trade deadline on Feb. 25th), and for the next three weeks when we won (10 of 11)," Gallant said. "We played great hockey when we had to. We pretty much secured our (playoff) position. We weren't going to go up or go down unless some team fell on their face and we won every game. That to me was when we played our best hockey.
"Now have we played good the last seven or eight games? We've played OK. Do I know we're going to play well come Wednesday or Thursday? I'm not worried one bit."
No doubt one reason for Gallant's optimism is the return of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury, who is tied for second in the NHL with eight shutouts and has played on three Stanley Cup champions, returned Thursday night after missing nine games with a lower-body injury and had 37 saves.
"I thought he was great, thank god," Gallant said. "He was outstanding. He got lots of shots, lots of work. More than I liked him to get, but he looked really good and really sharp."
"He made a ton of big saves for us that could have caused them to have a bigger lead," forward Ryan Carpenter said. "He played really well for us, but that's what we get every night from him."
Fleury was asked if he wanted to play in Saturday's game against the Kings.
"I'd like to play," he said. "It's just one more game, and there's plenty of time after the game to relax and recover and get going again."
Los Angeles (30-42-9, 69 points), which has already clinched last place in the Pacific Division, comes off a 5-2 loss at Anaheim on Friday night.
"I thought we played hard," defenseman Alec Martinez told the Los Angeles Times. "We had breakdowns. They capitalized on our mistakes."
The two teams have split the first four meetings this season, which were played in a span of 25 days. The Kings won 5-1 at home on Dec. 8 and 4-3 in overtime on Dec. 23. The Knights responded with a 4-1 road win on Dec. 29 and a 2-0 home victory on New Year's Day.
--Field Level Media