The Golden Knights possess a roster full of players who have proven themselves capable of putting the puck in the net despite a dearth of goals this season.
Brad Hunt, Ryan Reaves and William Carrier may be three of the last names on that list who would be expected to help the Knights get out of their season-long swoon.
Yet all three scored on Saturday night to help the Knights to a 3-0 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in front of an announced crowd of 18,328 at T-Mobile Arena.
“It won’t happen a lot,” Carrier said with a laugh of the trio getting on the scoreboard together.
It was just the fifth time in 14 games the Knights had scored more than twice. Marc-Andre Fleury made the offensive outburst hold up, making 34 saves against the Hurricanes (6-6-2) to for his 50th career shutout.
“It’s a nice round number,” the goaltender said. “It felt like it took awhile to get there. But those wins, those shutouts, are because of how the team plays, like tonight.
“It’s a good feeling.”
It certainly was for Carrier, who mimicked removing a large weight from his shoulders after scoring for the first time since Oct. 27, 2017. He helped create an offensive zone turnover early in the third period on the forecheck and was able to punch in the puck after Nick Holden fired a wrist shot on net.
“It’s been a long time coming,” he said.
Coach Gerard Gallant said the overall performance was “up there” in terms of the team’s best of the season.
The goals coming from unexpected sources provided a big boost for the Knights (6-7-1).
“I think it’s great,” Gallant said. “It’s all about the team. You win as a team and you lose as a team. Those guys are a big part of our group and it’s good to see them get rewarded. I know our players are real happy for them.”
It may be about time to stop looking at Reaves’ goals with any degree of surprise, however.
In fact, he’s running out of ways to commemorate his tallies.
“I’d like to apologize to the Vegas fans for that trash celebration,” he said after scoring his fourth goal of the season to move into sole possession of second place on the team. “I’ll do better. Just not a lot of enthusiasm. I think I’m running out of cellys. I’m not used to doing it so often. I’ll figure something out.”
The bruising forward netted a scrappy goal in the second period as he fought for position in front of the net, got enough of the puck and sent a backhanded shot past Scott Darling after Shea Theodore’s’ blast was blocked and the puck fell just to Reaves’ side.
Reaves, who didn’t have a goal for the Knights in 21 games last season after coming over from Pittsburgh at the trade deadline, is more than halfway to his season-best of seven goals. He entered Saturday’s game with 34 in 511 career games but has been playing with a great deal of confidence right now.
“Very (Wayne) Gretzkyesque,” he laughed. “Just with a little bit of a better tan.
“It’s boosting my confidence, for sure. Confidence is a real thing, and when you have confidence, you go out there and play every game and it works.”
Hunt had five goals in 82 career games before Saturday but was credited with the game-winner for his first-period goal.
“Erik Haula made a great play,” Hunt said of the forward who had two assists and found Hunt from behind the net as he crashed the goal. “I think the puck went right through the (defenseman’s) leg right on to my tape. I didn’t really have to do much. I just happened to be in the right spot.
“I think we just have such a high-character group and we know how deep our team is. You get the guys on the fourth line scoring and myself chipping in. It’s what we want to see and the rest of the guys played great. It’s going to come. We just need to keep playing the right way and the bounces will start going our way.”
The Knights may need some breaks as they head back out on the road for their next four games, beginning Tuesday night in Toronto.
1. Still searching. Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant put his struggling third line out on the ice as the starters at forward on Saturday night, but the tactic didn’t bear fruit as Ryan Carpenter, Tomas Nosek and Cody Eakin were once again kept off the scoreboard.
2. Feeling Good. Defenseman Brad Hunt believes the team’s performance is a good omen heading into a four-game road trip that includes matchups with several Eastern Conference powerhouses. “We wanted to go into the road trip with some confidence and positive energy. I think tonight we proved to ourselves how we can play and we just have to keep building off of it.”
3. New streak. Carolina’s young star Sebastian Aho got off to a great start as he recorded a point in 12 straight games to open the season, but he was held off the score sheet by the Knights after he had the streak snapped against Arizona on Friday night. Aho did get three shots on goal, but was a minus-1 for the night.