WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Reilly Smith hopes his goal from Tuesday’s Golden Knights win serves as an offensive wake-up call.
The left wing was goal-less in six straight games before his first-period power-play goal against Calgary gave the Knights a 1-0 lead in what became a 4-2 come-from-behind victory. But Smith’s defensive play and his work on the penalty killing unit allowed him to remain productive on the top line with Jonathan Marchessault and William Karlsson.
“It felt good to get one,” Smith said of his 13th of the season. “But it was a good team effort and a great win.”
Coach Gerard Gallant knows what Smith can do so he wasn’t worried about the mini-slump.
“Reilly’s always been a responsible guy and just because he hasn’t been scoring lately doesn’t mean he hasn’t been contributing,” Gallant said. “He’s helping in the defensive end and working well with Marchy and Karlsson. He’s been a big part of this all season.”
McNabb skates, sits
Defenseman Brayden McNabb was on the ice with the team Thursday at the morning skate but was not in the lineup against Winnipeg. It was the third game McNabb missed due to an upper-body injury suffered Jan. 23 against Columbus.
He had visited with team doctors in Las Vegas on Tuesday, was cleared to play and rejoined the team late Wednesday in Winnipeg.
“It was good to be back out there with the guys,” McNabb said. “At first, it was looking like it might be a possible long-term thing. Fortunately, it wasn’t.”
Round 2 with Wild
The Knights are in St. Paul on Friday for the second of back-to-back games as the six-game road trip continues at the Xcel Energy Center against the Minnesota Wild.
It’s the second of three meetings between the two clubs and the Wild took the first game, 4-2, back on Nov. 30. Malcolm Subban was in goal that night and there’s a good chance he’ll start Friday after Marc-Andre Fleury started Thursday against the Jets.
The game will be televised nationally on NBC Sports Network. Knights TV play-by-play announcer Dave Goucher will call the game on NBCSN.
“Hockey is for Everyone,” the NHL’s all-inclusive initiative, kicked off its month-long run Thursday and each of the 31 teams has an ambassador to bring awareness to the cause.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare serves in that capacity for the Golden Knights and he takes the role seriously.
“Everybody should think it’s important,” Bellemare said. “Hockey should be fun for everybody. It doesn’t matter who you are or what the color of your skin is.”
1. Tired Knights? Friday will be the Knights’ third game in four nights and the second of a back-to-back after playing in Winnipeg Thursday. How much energy will they have?
2. Zucker vs. Vegas. Jason Zucker, Las Vegas’ homegrown NHL player, is closing in on a career-high for goals. He has 20 through 50 games this season after scoring a career-best 22 in 2016-17. He’d love to get one or more against his city’s team.
3. Penalty killers. The Knights currently rank 10th in the NHL in penalty killing at 82.5 percent. But over the last 16 games, they are No. 1 in the league at 94.7 percent. Going into Thursday, they had killed 36 of their last 38 penalties.
Who: Golden Knights vs. Wild
When: 5 p.m. Friday
Where: Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, Minn.
TV: NBCSN (Cox 38/1038, DirecTV 220, DISH 159)
Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM)