DALLAS — Shea Theodore committed a turnover late in the third period against Nashville on Friday that led directly to the Predators’ go-ahead goal.
The Golden Knights defenseman was scratched for Saturday’s game against the Dallas Stars at American Airlines Center.
”He’s not sitting out because of one turnover,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said before the game. “He’s a young player, and we want him to get better defensively. Over the last few games, there’s been a few mistakes. Our guys are going to make mistakes and we’re going to live with those.
“We just want him to get better, and that’s part of building a young player.”
Theodore, 22, tried to stickhandle around Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson and lost the puck behind his own net. Arvidsson quickly centered for Nick Bonino, who scored with 5:04 remaining to put the Knights in a 3-2 hole.
“Guys were right there to help him out,” defenseman Nate Schmidt said. “Everyone knows what he’s going through. Everybody’s been in that situation before, and you’ve just got to make sure we’re a group back there and stick together.”
Brad Hunt replaced Theodore in the Knights’ lineup against Dallas. It was Hunt’s first game since Nov. 28 against the Stars.
”In his career, he’s missed a lot of games sitting out, but he’s a guy that’s an effective player and we don’t want to let him sit out too long,” Gallant said of Hunt. “He’s a good player and works hard for our team. That’s what our team is all about.”
Schmidt played a season-high 28:08 (35 shifts) in the victory over Nashville and had a quick turnaround on the second game of a back-to-back.
“It was definitely a new experience for me, but it was something I felt ready for,” Schmidt said. “It was a big plus for me to have them have that much trust in me to go out there and have that many minutes.”
Schmidt finished with two assists against the Predators and drew praise from Gallant.
“I didn’t notice Nate except for when he made some good plays offensively,” Gallant said. “When you don’t notice a defenseman in your own zone, you know he’s doing a great job. He was outstanding last night. If it takes 28 or 30 minutes to win a hockey game in a tough building like Nashville, he deserved every minute he got last night.”