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Wed 28/03/2018 - 07:46 EDT

Vegas Golden Knights vs Arizona Coyotes NHL Odds, Picks

Vegas Clinches Playoff Spot

There will be playoff hockey on the Las Vegas Strip in April.

The Vegas Golden Knights thumped the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 on Monday to become the first team to clinch a playoff berth in its inaugural season since the Edmonton Oilers and Hartford Whalers in the 1979-80 season.

Both of those teams merged into the NHL from the World Hockey Association almost 40 years ago.

No expansion team had ever made the playoffs since the league expanded for the 1967-68 season.

The Golden Knights, who were given no chance by oddsmakers to win the Stanley Cup before the schedule began, have gone from the longest shot on the board at 500-1 to a current price of 7-1 (odds provided by Bovada). Vegas is now third in the betting ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins (+850) — the two-time defending champions.

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“For an expansion team to make the playoffs, it’s incredible,” head coach Gerard Gallant told the media after Monday night’s victory over Colorado and the 200th win of his coaching career.

The Golden Knights (48-21-7) will have little time to celebrate as they play their second matchup in a four-game homestand on Wednesday night against the Arizona Coyotes (26-39-11) at T-Mobile Arena. Vegas is first in the Pacific Division, 40 points ahead of Arizona, which is eighth and last.

Jonathan Marchessault, William Karlsson, Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch scored Monday for the Golden Knights, who are just a few points behind the Nashville Predators for the best record in the Western Conference.

Marchessault continues to lead the team in scoring with 25 goals and 47 assists for 72 points. He became the 10th player in NHL history to record 70-plus points while playing for a team in its inaugural season. Karlsson, the Golden Knights’ leading goal scorer, is second with 40 goals and 29 assists for 69 points.

Veteran netminder Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots against the Avalanche to improve to 28-11-4 on the season. Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins, has been impressive with a .931 save percentage and 2.12 goals-against average in 43 starts.

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The Coyotes, who started the season with 11 straight losses, are winless in four tries against the Golden Knights this season.

They lost twice to Vegas in the first week of the regular season in a home-and-home series — 2-1 on Oct. 7 at the Gila River Arena and 5-2 on Oct. 10 in their first trip to the Las Vegas Strip. The Golden Knights returned to Arizona on Nov. 25 and won 4-2 before returning home and beating the Coyotes 3-2 on Dec. 3.

The Coyotes are 8-6 in their last 14 games, including a victory over the top team in the East when they beat the Lightning 4-1 in Tampa on Monday.

Clayton Keller and Derek Stepan are the only two players with more than 40 points for the Coyotes, who rank 30th in the league in scoring. Keller, who is the team’s leading goal scorer, has 23 markers and 38 assists for 61 points. Stepan is eight points behind with 13 goals and 40 assists for 53 points.

The Coyotes have played close games against the Golden Knights this season, but they have failed to find the win column. Vegas might suffer a bit of a letdown after Monday’s playoff celebration, but it shouldn’t matter against one of the worst teams in the league.

VGB’s pickVegas (-270), Under (5.5)

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