Had the recent scoring slump endured by William Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault coincided with a Golden Knights losing streak, maybe their frustration level would have been higher.
Perhaps if they played for a different club, Karlsson and Marchessault would have been burdened by the pressure to produce.
“Our whole team and our coaches have been patient with us,” Marchessault said Sunday. “You go in a market like Toronto or Montreal or something like that, you’re just going to get hammered and you’re going to hear about it.
“It’s just awesome that they give us the chance to get back out there and show what we can do. I think they believe in us, and it boosts your confidence.”
The Knights’ leading scorers from last season suffered through a rough patch this month, combining for one point since the calendar flipped to 2019.
But Karlsson and Marchessault broke out offensively against Pittsburgh on Saturday and will try to build on that performance against the Minnesota Wild on Monday at T-Mobile Arena.
“I think we’ve been getting chances, we just haven’t capitalized on them,” Karlsson said. “That’s all you can do really is create chances. Sooner or later they’re going to go in. It’s when you don’t create anything when you should be worried.
“Of course it’s frustrating to not produce, because you want to be a guy that produces. For sure (Saturday) night was kind of a relief.”
Karlsson, last season’s top scorer with 43 goals and 78 points, finished with a goal and an assist against the Penguins to end a skid of eight straight games without a point.
His longest scoreless stretch with the Knights previously was four games (Oct. 6 to Oct. 13, 2017).
Karlsson had not scored since Dec. 29 against Los Angeles and produced one point in his previous 11 games when the Knights went 8-2-1.
“It would have been a lot worse if we were not winning and (I was) playing like crap. That’s helped a lot,” Karlsson said. “It’s been a little frustrating, of course. It takes a little toll on your confidence, too. But if you keep working hard and you get the chances, eventually they’ve got to come. I think (Saturday) was finally our day. It bounced our way.”
Marchessault notched his second career hat trick in the victory over the Penguins after scoring one goal in his previous 11 games.
Since Dec. 17, he had four points (two goals, two assists) and was critical of his play, as well.
“Sometimes when you watch some tape you see some tendencies that I don’t like from my game,” Marchessault said. “It’s just going back to basics, too. Not overthink the game and just go out there and play and work hard as much as you can. If you do that with the type of team we have, I think you’ll get rewarded.”
Karlsson and Marchessault have missed injured right wing Reilly Smith, who hasn’t played the past five games.
Coach Gerard Gallant noted that despite their scoring drought, Karlsson and Marchessault were taking care of their own zone.
He matched up them against Pittsburgh’s top line that features Sidney Crosby, and Karlsson, Marchessault and linemate Brandon Pirri emerged with a combined plus-four rating.
“We’ve played pretty good hockey, and those guys, even though they weren’t scoring, they were playing good, solid, defensive hockey. And that’s what’s important for us,” Gallant said. “I know they’re going to score. I know they want to score every game, and hopefully we’re going to see a lot more games in the future what they did (Saturday) night because they’re good hockey players and they get confidence off of that.”
Who: Golden Knights vs. Wild
When: 3 p.m. Monday
Where: T-Mobile Arena
TV: AT&T SportsNet (Cox 313/1313, DirecTV 684, CenturyLink 760/1760, U-verse 757/1757, Dish 414/5414)
Radio: KRLV (98.9 FM, 1340 AM); ESPN Deportes (1460 AM)
Line: Knights -170; total 6 u-120
1. Control tempo. The Golden Knights were unable to solve Minnesota in three tries last season, and needed a shootout in the second game to beat the Wild for the first time in franchise history. The Wild have had success sitting back and not allowing the Knights to utilize their speed.
2. Task at hand. The All-Star break is on the horizon, and a showdown against Nashville is looming, as well. But the Knights can’t afford to look ahead, not with Calgary (69 points) and San Jose (63 points) ahead of them in the Pacific Division standings.
3. Wild times. Minnesota sits one point out of the wild card and went through a recent shake-up with forwards Victor Rask and Pontus Aberg added in separate trades. The Wild are 6-4 in their past 10 and have lost two straight on the road.