On a night of milestones, one stood above the rest.
The Golden Knights officially are in the playoffs.
William Karlsson reached the 40-goal mark and added two assists, and the Knights clinched a berth in the postseason with a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Monday at T-Mobile Arena.
“We had some chances before here, so it’s good to clinch it at home ice,” Karlsson said. “They’ve been with us since day one, so I’m happy to do it here.”
Marc-Andre Fleury had 28 saves for the Knights (48-21-7, 103 points) and tied Grant Fuhr for 11th all time with his 403rd career victory.
It also was the 200th career victory for Knights coach Gerard Gallant.
Along with putting an X next to their name in the standings, the Knights maintained their six-point lead over San Jose in the Pacific Division with six games remaining.
“It means a lot, obviously. But right now, it’s about doing our job,” Gallant said. “Early in the year, a lot of nights I would go home and think, ‘What’s going on here? We’re winning every single night.’ Now, I come to the rink and expect our team to play well and win. We’ve got a good group. They battle hard and they like each other, so it’s been fun.”
Jonathan Marchessault finished with a goal and two assists, and Shea Theodore added a goal and an assist. Alex Tuch also scored for the Knights.
Karlsson became the 10th Swedish-born player to reach 40 goals when he scored into an empty net with 15.4 seconds remaining.
Karlsson is fourth in the league in goals behind Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine and Evgeni Malkin of Pittsburgh.
“Kind of a relief now to finally get the 40th,” Karlsson said. “It wasn’t one of my hardest goals, but they all count. I’m just very happy and relieved and obviously to get the clinch, too.”
The Knights had a chance to lock up a playoff berth Saturday at Colorado and would have clinched with an Anaheim loss Sunday at Edmonton.
Instead, they took care of business in front of an announced crowd of 18,326 and used their red-hot power play to get it done.
The Knights went 2-for-4 with the man advantage and are clicking at a league-best 31.0 percent (26-for-84) since Jan. 21.
“I wasn’t relying on anybody, honestly,” said center Erik Haula, who set up Theodore’s goal early in the third period. “We talked about it. We’ve got to play well ourselves. It’s not a good sign if you lose all the games and somebody else gets you in the playoffs. That’s not what we’re looking for. We’re looking to play our best hockey this time of the year.”
Colorado’s Tyson Jost was assessed a double-minor for high-sticking Pierre-Edouard Bellemare during a faceoff after the Avalanche tied the game at 1 on Erik Johnson’s second-period goal.
Marchessault didn’t need long to capitalize, as he used a screen from Tuch and snapped a laser from the right faceoff dot past Colorado goaltender Semyon Varlamov for his 25th of the season with 5:44 left in the second period.
The Knights went ahead 1-0 at 4:14 of the second, wasting no time after Colorado was assessed a penalty for too many men on the ice.
Marchessault’s drive was blocked and Karlsson fouled off the rebound as he tried to swat it out of the air. But the puck fell to Tuch in front of the net and he buried it for his 14th goal of the season and first since March 8 at Detroit.
“We didn’t have a lot of expectations and we weren’t very happy with that, but like I said, we can’t be too satisfied with being good in the regular season,” Marchessault said. “There’s a lot more to come.”