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LAS VEGAS — The Vegas Golden Knights can exhale a little heading into a pair of tough back-to-back home games starting with the red-hot St. Louis Blues on Friday night at T-Mobile Arena.

Thanks to Nashville’s 5-3 victory over San Jose on Thursday night Adidas Shea Weber Jersey , the magic number for Vegas to clinch the Pacific Division title is three with five games to go after the second place Sharks (44-24-10) lost for only the second time in 10 games. San Jose plays the final regular-season home game at T-Mobile on Saturday night.

The Golden Knights (48-22-7), who lost at home to Arizona on Wednesday night, have sputtered down the stretch, going 3-3-2 over their last eight games and 7-6-3 in their last 16 games including home losses to bottom-feeders such as Ottawa and the Coyotes.

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Particularly frustrating for coach Gerard Gallant is his squad Adidas Evgenii Dadonov Jersey , which seemed to wear teams down with four lines playing with intensity for 60 minutes, has started slowly in each of its last three games, managing five first period shots against the Coyotes after firing six in the opening frame of a 4-1 win over Colorado on Monday. This after the Golden Knights were blanked for over 41 minutes to start an eventual 2-1 shootout loss to the Avs on Saturday in Denver.

“You start off bad, then all of a sudden you get a little (ticked) off Adidas Jonathan Quick Jersey , and you start to play your game,” Gallant said of the slow starts. “That shouldn’t happen with our team.

“It’s bothering me a lot. We had a great first game of the road trip in San Jose (a 2-1 overtime loss March 22). We had an unbelievable first period. (But) the last three since we’ve been chasing the game every game. That’s three in a row and we have to fix it.”

The Golden Knights have been outshot 92-57 in the first period of their last seven games.

“It comes from between your ears more than anything,” forward Erik Haula, who scored his 29th goal of the season in Wednesday night’s loss Adidas Nathan MacKinnon Jersey , said. “I wish I knew the answer and I would fix it immediately. … The mentality has just gotta be a little bit different going into the game.”

St. Louis (43-28-5) comes into Friday night’s game with a season-best six-game win streak and has won eight of its last nine games. The Blues are tied with Anaheim and one in front of Colorado in the Western Conference wild card race.

A big reason for the strong finish has been the play of goalie Jake Allen who is 8-1-0 in his last nine starts. Vladimir Tarasenko’s goal at 2:33 in overtime snapped San Jose’s eight-game win streak on Tuesday and moved the Blues into wild-card position.

“We just know we need the points,” Blues center Brayden Schenn told NHL.com. “We’re getting good saves at key times, guys are playing defense, guys are stepping up Adidas Sidney Crosby Jersey , and when we get the puck, we’re going on the attack because we know we need the extra point.”

The teams have split the two previous meetings with Vegas winning 3-2 in overtime Oct. 21 at T-Mobile Arena and the Blues picking up a 2-1 home win Jan. 4.

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