With the season heading toward the stretch run and the NHL trade deadline on Friday, things are moving around the league.
The Vegas Golden Knights got in on the action, acquiring Ivan Barbashev from St. Louis for former first-round draft pick Zach Dean. Vegas will have Barbashev in the lineup when it faces the Colorado Avalanche in Denver on Monday night, according to multiple reports.
Barbashev, 27, won the Stanley Cup with the Blues in 2019. St. Louis is waving the white flag on this season, and the Golden Knights seized the opportunity to get a goal-scoring forward as they vie for the top seed in the Western Conference.
Barbashev adds much-needed depth with captain Mark Stone out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery on Jan. 31. Barbashev reunites with Alex Pietrangelo, who is in his third season with Vegas after 10-plus years with the Blues.
The Golden Knights sit atop the Pacific Division after going 6-0-3 in their last nine games. They are coming off a shootout loss against Dallas on Saturday night. They have yet to lose in regulation since the All-Star break.
"We're more resilient," Vegas right wing Jonathan Marchessault said last week. "We play a full 60 minutes instead of having a sloppy half a period sometimes. I think our effort has been better, and our support has been better as a unit of five out there. I think we just have to keep it going."
Vegas and the Avalanche have a history going back to the 2021 playoffs. Colorado won the first two games of the series, but the Golden Knights won four in a row to advance to the Western Conference finals.
The Avalanche used that disappointment as motivation for last year, and it paid off with a Stanley Cup championship. Colorado is trying to repeat, and after a rough patch, it has surged in the Central Division with five straight wins.
The last two victories have been especially impressive -- 5-1 at Winnipeg on Friday night and 4-1 at home against Calgary on Saturday night. The Avalanche just finished a stretch where they played three back-to-back sets over 12 days and went 5-0-1 in that span.
"Every team we've played we're kind of in the battle with for a playoff spot. Just crazy," said Nathan MacKinnon, who had goals in each of the last two games and is riding a seven-game point streak. "They're all waiting for us each time, too, so it wasn't like they were on a back-to-back as well. It's been a weird schedule."
Colorado has won the last two games without reigning Norris Trophy winner Cale Makar, who has missed seven of the last eight games with two concussions. He suffered the first at Pittsburgh on Feb. 7 and his second one came at St. Louis on Feb. 18.
Makar is expected to be back in the lineup against Vegas.
The Avalanche could be without Kurtis MacDermid, who was injured in a fight against Flames winger Milan Lucic on Saturday night. Colorado did not practice on Sunday and did not provide an update on MacDermid.
--Field Level Media