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Alex Tuch did not have a November to remember.
The Golden Knights forward battled injury and inconsistency throughout the month before ending on a high note in Friday’s 2-1 shootout victory over the Arizona Coyotes at T-Mobile Arena.
“Obviously, my productivity’s been low, but more than anything else, I just want this team to win,” Tuch said. “It’s something I’ve got to work on myself. But I’ve got to play good defense, a good team game, and just try to help the team win as much as possible and play the right way, and, hopefully, points start coming.”
Tuch was injured in the preseason and missed the first 13 games with an upper-body injury. He scored in his season debut against Montreal on Oct. 31, but was knocked out of the next game Nov. 2 after a high hit from Winnipeg’s Adam Lowry and sidelined for four games.
Tuch returned Nov. 13 against Chicago with an immaculate “Movember” mustache, but he struggled to develop chemistry on the third line with wing Cody Glass and either Paul Statsny or Cody Eakin at center.
In 11 games, the Tuch-Eakin-Glass trio registered 43.33 percent of the shot attempts at 5-on-5, the lowest percentage of the Knights’ four lines.
“Inconsistent. He had some real good games, then he tailed off a little bit,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “Again, it’s not easy when you get hurt and you’re chasing guys from behind and your conditioning is not quite with the other guy. But he’ll be fine.”
Tuch went seven straight games without a point until he broke through against the Coyotes. With a second-period power play winding down, Tuch moved to the front of the net and deflected defenseman Nic Hague’s wrist shot to put the Knights ahead.
He then scored the winning goal in the shootout with a silky move, going to his forehand to beat Coyotes goalie Darcy Kuemper.
Tuch has two goals and an assist in 11 games, and his 47.46 shot attempts percentage at 5-on-5 is one of the lowest among the team’s forwards.
But Gallant hopes Friday’s game will spark Tuch in December, starting with Monday’s game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
“When he skates and plays a bumping-and-grinding game and gets open, he’s a real effective player,” Gallant said. “He’s just got to do the simple thing. Tuchy thinks too much sometimes. Just go out and play and have fun. That’s when he plays his best hockey.”
Knights fans have the chance to vote Marc-Andre Fleury, Mark Stone or William Karlsson onto the Pacific Division All-Star team.
The three are the Knights’ nominees for Pacific Division captain. Fans can vote until 8:59 p.m. Pacific time Dec. 20 at NHL.com/Vote and the NHL app, and the top vote-getter in each division will be named captain. The league selects the remaining players.
NHL All-Star Weekend will be Jan. 24-25 in St. Louis. The All-Star skills competition will be Jan. 24, and the All-Star Game, which consists of a series of 3-on-3 games between the four divisions, will take place Jan. 25.
Fleury was the Knights’ lone All-Star last season. He and James Neal represented the team in 2018.