DETROIT — During the first intermission Thursday, the official scorers went back and added three shots on goal to the Golden Knights’ measly total.
It was a little bit of lipstick on an otherwise unsightly opening 20 minutes.
“We were definitely sloppy, the first 10 (minutes) especially,” left wing Jonathan Marchessault said.
That’s when a few familiar faces came to the rescue.
Coach Gerard Gallant returned Reilly Smith to the top line with Marchessault and William Karlsson, and the trio carried the Knights to a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena.
Marchessault finished with two goals and Karlsson added a goal and an assist — all in the second period — to help the Knights finish their four-game road swing through the Eastern Conference on a positive note.
“They played real good and like I said, it was a matter of time before I was going to get them back together,” Gallant said. “They play well together. It worked out. They had some jump and scored some goals.”
Brayden McNabb was credited with the game-winning goal when he intercepted a pass in his own zone and went coast-to-coast before flipping a backhand past Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard to put the Knights up 4-2 at 11:07 of the third period.
Michael Rasmussen scored on a power play early in the third period for the Red Wings and Thomas Vanek added a goal with 2.7 seconds left after he hit the crossbar and was denied on two other chances in the final two minutes by Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury finished with 36 saves and held the Knights in the game during the first period. He earned his league-leading 29th victory, matching his win total from last season.
“They came flying at us,” Fleury said. “I was mad at the first goal. I thought I had it and I was saying, ‘Aw, gee, I wish I could have kept it at 0-0.’ But we had a good talk between periods. The coach came in and had a good talk. I thought from then on, the second and third was good.”
The Knights were hoping to build off their come-from-behind victory over Tampa Bay on Tuesday but produced a clunker first period and trailed 1-0 when Gustav Nyquist dug a loose puck out of Fleury’s pads at 11:19.
The Knights went more than 10 minutes before they registered their first shot on goal and originally were credited with four for the period — three by defenseman Colin Miller — before that total was changed to seven.
Smith skated on the third line for the past two-plus games but returned to his familiar spot on the right wing with Marchessault and Karlsson, and they wasted little time making an impact.
Marchessault dug a rebound out of the skates of Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall and scored a power-play goal 2:04 into the second and Karlsson notched his 17th goal at 7:08 to put the Knights up 2-1.
Paul Stastny hopped out of the penalty box and made a fantastic return feed on a 2-on-1 to leave Karlsson with an open net.
“I just know where the pass is coming from, so I know where the goalie is,” Stastny said. “I kind of played the percentages.”
Marchessault added his second goal and team-high 19th a little more than three minutes later when he pounced on a rebound after Howard was unable to control Smith’s backhand.
“I think we kind of fed off those guys,” Stastny said. “Sometimes if you’re struggling a little bit you kind of break the line apart. But once you put it back together, it seems like they found that instant chemistry that they’ve had all season long season.”
1. Line dance. Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant made two changes to his lineup from Tuesday, with Tomas Nosek replacing the injured Ryan Carpenter and Oscar Lindberg in for Brandon Pirri, who has not recorded a point in six straight games after his hot start.
2. Shame, shame. Knights right wing Reilly Smith was whistled for a hooking penalty in the first period, the second straight game and third time in the past four games he’s been penalized. Smith had two penalty in his first 44 appearances.
3. Call it a comeback. The Knights earned their ninth victory when trailing after the first period, which is tied with three other teams for second-most in the league. They also improved to 14-11-1 when their opponent scores first, and the 14 wins ranks fourth overall.
David Schoen Review-Journal