Reilly Smith sounded like a man happy to be back on the score sheet Saturday morning.
The Golden Knights forward was held without a point in his first three games since returning from an undisclosed injury, but Thursday against the Detroit Red Wings, he picked up an assist in a 4-3 win.
Smith drove hard to the net, fired a backhand shot and created a rebound that teammate Jonathan Marchessault buried to give the Knights a 3-1 lead with 9:38 left in the second period.
Smith then had two assists in the first period of Vegas’ 4-3 loss Saturday night to the Columbus Blue Jackets.
“It’s frustrating not being offensively productive,” said Smith, who has 30 points in 50 games. “I think that’s one of the main things I’m on this team to do. I had more chances to score a couple and create some more plays last game, so I’ll have to keep my foot on the gas pedal and keep pushing for more.”
Smith missed almost a month for the Knights after being injured in a 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils on Jan. 6. He said he thought he came back at full strength because he was given the All-Star break and the Knights’ bye week to heal before returning Feb. 1 against the Carolina Hurricanes.
“It’s always nice to have a little bit of extra time to be able to heal and not be rushed back,” Smith said. “When you have those extra couple days during the break to be able to skate a few more times, you can get your legs going. I think it helped me.”
Still, he didn’t help create a goal until Thursday, when he was reunited with linemates Marchessault and William Karlsson on the Knights’ top line after two games apart. And even though he’s also crucial to the team as a forechecker and penalty killer, he admitted that felt good.
“Sometimes the puck’s not going in and you’re not getting bounces, and I think that’s probably a frustrating part of it,” Smith said. “It was nice to pick up an assist last game and help our team offensively.”
Carrier comes back
The Knights activated William Carrier off injured reserve Saturday, and the bruising winger played his first game since Jan. 4.
The 24-year-old, who was nursing an undisclosed injury, skated on the team’s fourth line against Columbus. Carrier has a career-high eight goals this season and leads the NHL in hits with 219 despite missing 12 games.
Forward Ryan Carpenter was placed on IR to make room for Carrier on the roster. Carpenter suffered an undisclosed injury with 2:17 left in the second period of the Knights’ shootout win Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning after receiving a hard hit from Cedric Paquette.
Knights coach Gerard Gallant said Saturday morning he didn’t know when defenseman Nick Holden (IR, lower-body injury) would play again because he hadn’t met with the Knights’ training staff since their four-game trip ended Thursday.
“I don’t think it’s too serious, but seriously I haven’t had an update since I’ve got back,” Gallant said.