The Knights are starting to look golden again.
That was the feeling coming out of a stretch that included four wins over divisional opponents in five games, culminated by back-to-back shutouts of the Flames and Sharks on Friday and Saturday at T-Mobile Arena.
“We played our game (on Saturday night), and it was great,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “Obviously, we got a break early with the first goal. It was a lucky break, but the puck went in the net early in the game and our team responded from that.
“I thought we played an excellent hockey game. We played the type of game we’re used to playing. Fast skating, quick game. We were really competitive tonight.”
Gallant was referring to the Knights starting with the fastest goal at the beginning of a game in franchise history when a bouncing puck ricocheted off the stick of an unsuspecting William Karlsson and into the net 14 seconds after the opening faceoff.
The previous mark for the fastest goal was 35 seconds by Jonathan Marchessault on May 16 in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final against Winnipeg.
In the regular season, Karlsson had the previous mark, scoring 55 seconds in against Los Angeles on Nov. 19, 2017.
The Knights swarmed the Sharks from there and resembled the team that overwhelmed the Pacific Division last season on their way to a run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Forward William Carrier was cautious about saying the team is back to its previous form.
“I’m not going to jinx it so I won’t say anything,” he said. “I just like the way our team is playing right now. We’re bringing it shift after shift. All lines are working hard, and I’ll just leave it there.”
Reilly Smith was more willing to discuss how confident the team is starting to feel.
“I think we are ( finding our game again),” he said. “Early goals have been tough for us this season, and I think that was key to a lot of our success last year. Hopefully, we can get back to it. It gives us a huge jump at the start of games and raises the emotion in the building that much more.
“When you’re at home, you’ve got to pick up wins, especially against divisional opponents. Up and down our lineup, I thought we were strong again.”
Short rest doesn’t seem to mean a thing to Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury posted back-to-back shutouts over consecutive days Friday and Saturday, becoming the first goaltender to do so since James Reimer did it for the Florida Panthers in April 2017.
“We didn’t travel in between games, so it wasn’t too bad,” Fleury said.
Marc-Andre Fleury is the second goalie in the expansion era (since 1967-68) to record 5+ shutouts through 25 team games in a season multiple times in his career (also in 2014-15 w/ PIT), joining Ed Belfour (1997-98: 5 and 2000-01: 6 w/ DAL). #NHLStats pic.twitter.com/71JpkEJvgs
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) November 25, 2018
He also leads the league with five shutouts and is one of 10 goalies in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) to have five in his team’s first 25 games. He also had five through 25 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014-15, making him only the second goalie to do it multiple times along with ex-Dallas Stars netminder Ed Belfour.
Pavelski expects change
The Knights scuffled to begin the season but count San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski as one player that expects them to turn it around.
“You know, they had a slow start,” Pavelski said. “Obviously, it’s been talked about a little bit, but we expect that team to be there at the end. They’re a good team, and they got some experience from last year, some good make-up there on their team.”