As expected, Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant shuffled his lineup as the Knights looked to stave off elimination in the Stanley Cup Final.
William Carrier made his first appearance in the final in Game 5, taking Ryan Reaves’ place on the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tomas Nosek. The other change saw David Perron return to the ice, replacing Ryan Carpenter on the third line with Cody Eakin and Tomas Tatar.
Bellemare said Carrier, who has been a regular on his line when he has been healthy, shouldn’t cause much of a change.
“Willie knows how to play the game,” Bellemare said of Carrier, who last played May 4 against San Jose in Game 5 of the second round before sustaining an undisclosed injury. “He’s got a lot of speed and he’s always willing to sacrifice his body for the team.”
Eakin said Perron’s return to his line will likely change the dynamic of how they perform.
“They’re different players,” Eakin said of Perron and Carpenter. “David’s more of a control player who can keep the puck on his stick and create some offense.”
Gallant also shook things up on the blueline, breaking up Deryk Engelland and Shea Theodore by moving Theodore to partner with Nate Schmidt while playing Brayden McNabb with Engelland.
William Karlsson ready after off day
Center William Karlsson was one of the few regulars to skate Thursday morning prior to Game 5. Perhaps it was more for show purposes after Karlsson took Wednesday off.
“I feel good,” Karlsson told reporters Thursday morning. “Ready to go. Yeah, (Wednesday) a maintenance day. Rest up the body and soul.”
Karlsson said the mindset among the players was figure out a way to win one game.
“If we lose, we don’t get to play more hockey,” he said. “That’s the difference. But we’ve really been one game at a time all year and now it’s really the time to have that mindset. We’re going to try to get that win and go from there.”
Throng of Capitals fans show for Game 5
Capitals fans showed up in force Thursday at T-Mobile Arena. Several hundred red-clad fans lined the glass by the Washington bench and behind the goal, where they shared space with a number of Las Vegas showgirls, none of whom were wearing red.
On secondary ticket outlet Stubhub, the cheapest ticket was going for $620 in the corner balcony to $3,500 for club seats in the lower level near center ice.
Home means Nevada
The Knights were a league-leading 7-2 on home ice this postseason going into Thursday’s Game 5. Only one other team in NHL history has recorded seven home wins during its first playoff appearance — the 1996 Florida Panthers (in their third season) went 7-4 at home to reach the final.