SUNRISE, Fla. — Gerard Gallant liked what he saw after juggling his forward lines in the third period against Carolina on Friday.
The Golden Knights coach liked it so much, he stuck with the combinations Saturday against Florida.
“Just a spark, that’s it,” Gallant said.
Winger Valentin Zykov, playing his third game with the Knights since he was claimed off waivers Dec. 29, skated alongside center William Karlsson and left wing Jonathan Marchessault.
Right wing Reilly Smith joined center Cody Eakin and left wing Brandon Pirri on a revamped third line.
“That’s just the point where we’re at right now,” Marchessault said. “(Gallant) gave us all the chance in the world to be successful, and we’re not. Obviously we would like to play all three together, but we’re not successful. I think it’s time to shake things up, and that’s what he did.”
Smith missed seven straight games before the All-Star break and bye week, but the Karlsson-Marchessault-Smith combination was struggling to match last season’s production prior to his injury.
Smith had three points in the 10 games before his injury Jan. 6. Karlsson was held without a point in 11 of his past 12 games before the shake-up, and Marchessault had four goals and two assists dating to Dec. 27.
The Karlsson-Marchessault-Smith line produced five goals and seven points in January. Almost all their production came in a 7-3 victory over Pittsburgh on Jan. 19 when Marchessault had a hat trick and Karlsson added a goal and an assist.
“I got to look myself in the mirror and start helping my team to win games, and that’s not what I’m doing,” Marchessault said. “It’s partially my fault, and I need to step up and be better.”
The Knights have scored two goals or fewer in five of their past six games after their 3-1 loss to the Panthers.
Pirri and Smith, who grew up playing youth hockey together in suburban Toronto, briefly skated on the same line in December. Their play helped spark the Knights in a 4-2 come-from-behind win over the New York Islanders on Dec. 20.
“I think everyone in that locker room needs to step up and do a little more, because what’s been happening recently isn’t acceptable around here,” Pirri said. “We’ve all got to dig a little deeper.”
The Knights are off Sunday before traveling to Tampa, Florida, which gives them the opportunity to watch Super Bowl LIII between the Los Angeles Rams and New England Patriots.
Gallant said he planned to watch the game, but didn’t have a prediction on the winner. Marchessault went with the Patriots, and Pirri declined to offer his thoughts on the outcome.
“I’m a Bears fan, so I don’t care,” he said.