Reilly Smith had a pretty good idea the puck was coming his way. And once it arrived, he knew what to do.
The left wing beat Scott Wedgewood with 1:10 remaining in overtime as the Golden Knights stopped their three-game losing streak with a 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes Sunday at T-Mobile Arena.
For the Knights, who improved to 16-9-1 and remained in second place in the Pacific Division, it was their fifth win in six overtime appearances. It was also their 10th win in 12 games at home, an NHL record for an expansion franchise.
Jonathan Marchessault was leading a 2-on-1 into the Arizona end as Smith joined the play. Marchessault’s pass was right on the money and Smith sent the puck past Wedgewood before he could react.
“I thought he’d slide it over,” said Smith, who scored his seventh of the season. “It was a great pass.”
For Marchessault, who had scored 18 seconds into the third period to break a 1-1 tie after Vegas’ Alex Tuch and Arizona’s Jakob Chychrun traded second-period goals, it was a great way to cap the evening.
“I had hit the post earlier (in OT) so I think they were looking for me to shoot again,” Marchessault said. “But I saw Smitty fill the space and I got him the puck and he took care of the rest.”
Arizona coach Rick Tocchet said the Knights know how to compete in the 3-on-3 overtime.
“It’s not even so much their quickness, it’s their battle,” Tocchet said. “Vegas, they’re a sticky team. They’ve got some veteran guys that get on loose pucks, and we’re a young team that’s got to learn that. You’ve got to get in there and get your nose over the puck.”
Coach Gerard Gallant said his team was rewarded for a strong effort against an improved Coyotes team, which picked up a point despite falling to 7-18-5 and remaining in last place in the Pacific.
“I thought we played a great game,” Gallant said. “Our guys did a good job of moving the puck and Marchy made some great plays.”
The Coyotes may have been tired, having played for the second night in a row. It certainly appeared to be so in overtime as the Knights controlled play and tempo, except for one burst by Clayton Keller. But goaltender Malcolm Subban turned aside Keller’s threat as he made 31 saves to earn the win.
Tocchet said fatigue was not the issue.
“You can’t have passengers,” he said. “We don’t have a team that can afford to have passengers. We had passengers tonight. I used the bench, so I don’t think it’s fatigue.”
For the Knights, it was about seizing the opportunity and having their top line produce.
Marchessault had a goal and an assist, Smith tallied the game-winner and William Karlsson assisted on Marchessault’s goal. He now has 25 points for the season, equalling his entire output from last season in Columbus, where he had six goals and 19 assists for the Blue Jackets.
“We’re always looking for each other,” Marchessault said of his linemates. “They’re great guys to play with.”