LOS ANGELES — David Perron was tired of sitting and watching from the press box.
On Sunday, it was Tomas Tatar’s turn to watch.
Perron, the Golden Knights’ veteran forward who had not played since March 26 because of an upper-body injury, returned to the lineup for Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center.
“It was pretty fast but it got better as the game went along,” said Perron, who had an assist on Cody Eakin’s game-tying, third-period goal in the Knights’ 3-2 win. “I just wanted to make sure I played a smart game.
“I saw during a couple of shifts in the second (period) my game starting to come along. I was making plays in the corner and at the point.”
Perron took Tatar’s place on the line of Cody Eakin and Ryan Carpenter while Alex Tuch remained in what would normally be Perron’s spot on Erik Haula’s line with James Neal. Knights coach Gerard Gallant was glad to have Perron back on the ice.
“He’s a veteran guy and he’s made plays like the one on Eakin’s goal for us all year,” Gallant said of Perron, who played 17:12 in 19 shifts, had one shot on goal and took a third-period penalty for tripping that the Kings were unable to capitalize on. “I thought he did fine.”
The move to sit Tatar was interesting given the Knights had traded a No. 1 draft pick along with a second- and a third-round pick to get him from Detroit at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.
But Tatar has not delivered offensively as hoped, scoring just four goals with the Knights, and has been kept off the scoresheet in the first two games against the Kings while taking just three shots. And given the way Carpenter has played at both ends of the ice — and the recent return of Will Carrier to the fourth line with Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Tomas Nosek — Tatar found himself the odd man out.
“He handled it like a pro,” Gallant said of Tatar. “We were able to bring one of our top players back into the lineup. He understands. But he’s going to be a big part of what we do.”
Perron had no trouble fitting in with Eakin and Carpenter.
“I didn’t really know him before this year, but he’s come in and done a really good job for us,” Perron said of his new linemate. “He’s the type of player who grows on you. The more you see him play, the more you see some of the stuff he does out on the ice. He’s not flashy, but he’s scored some big goals for us this year.”
Eakin, who skated with Perron early this season, said it wouldn’t be a problem reuniting with him. Turned out he was right as his goal tied the game 6:10 into the third period and gave the Knights a huge spark.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) April 16, 2018
“He’s a guy who likes to have the puck on his stick and you want to get open because he’ll get it to you,” Eakin said of Perron, who had a career-best 50 assists this year. “He made a great play to get the puck to (Carpenter) who was able to set me up for the goal.”