It has been a while since William Karlsson reached deep into his bag of tricks to score a goal.
The Golden Knights’ leader in goals made a nifty between-the-legs move Saturday during a third-period breakaway that led to a shorthanded goal which gave the Knights a 3-2 win over San Jose.
— Chase Stevens (@CSStevensphoto) April 1, 2018
It clinched the Pacific Division for the Knights, who became the first NHL team to wrap up its division. It brought a massive roar from the fans at T-Mobile Arena who at first weren’t sure what to make of the wizardry they had just witnessed.
Karlsson’s slick stickhandling and shot also quickly went viral on social media platforms and made the highlight reels of television sports news shows throughout North America — and no doubt in Karlsson’s native Sweden.
“I’ve done it before,” the 25-year-old nicknamed “Wild Bill” said matter-of-factly about his 42nd goal of the year. “I think I was 18 the last time I tried it. I don’t think he (Sharks goalie Martin Jones) was expecting it.”
He wasn’t. But Jones perhaps set up the stunning play.
He tried to pokecheck the puck off Karlsson’s stick after Karlsson had beaten Brent Burns to the free puck and came in alone looking to break a 2-2 tie.
“Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have poked,” Jones said. “Nice move.”
Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was watching from his crease and came away impressed.
“I was really happy it went in, and realized it went in the way it did was awesome,” Fleury said. “It just sums up this season and how great and consistent it’s been for us. His goal was very clutch for us and it was a great goal.”
Linemate Jonathan Marchessault said of Karlsson’s second shorthanded goal in as many nights: “It’s a scoring chance and if you miss the puck, you look a little stupid. It’s a great play. But it’s a highlight we’re going to see for many years. He went with his gut. It was amazing.”
The Knights announced their season team award winners following Saturday’s division-clinching win and Karlsson was the recipient of two of the three awards handed out.
He was selected by the fans as the Team’s 7th Man Award winner and also took home the First Star Award which goes to the player with the most Three Stars selections.
Defenseman Deryk Engelland was the recipient of the Vegas Strong Award.
In addition, Fleury was recognized for his 400th career NHL win with a special gold stick. Fleury, who reached the 400-win mark on March 12, won his 404th game on Saturday and moved past Grant Fuhr into 11th place on the NHL’s goaltender career wins list.
Station Casinos will hold viewing parties for all Knights games throughout April at all of its properties’ sports bars with the exception of the Palms. Drink specials will be offered at all locations and the games will be prominently displayed on TV screens.
The first viewing party is Tuesday when the Knights play against Vancouver.