The Golden Knights’ first line appears to be peaking just in time for another playoff push.
William Karlsson, Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith combined for 10 points in the Knights’ 7-3 win against the San Jose Sharks on Monday, showing shades of the group that was among the NHL’s elite last season.
“I don’t know why they waited so long,” coach Gerard Gallant quipped Monday. “I thought they’ve played pretty good all season long, but they had a great game tonight. They played really hard, and they played well.”
Karlsson, Marchessault and Smith each recorded multi-point performances Monday for the second straight game and the fourth time this season. Karlsson had a goal and an assist and Smith (one goal, three assists) and Marchessault had the Knights’ first four-point games of the season.
Marchessault also became the first player in team history to have a multi-goal (two) and multi-assist (two) game.
“(They) just kind of took over the game,” winger Mark Stone said. “We really saw how in sync there were throughout the entire night. They came up big for us.”
The overall results aren’t there for the first line — each had at least 60 points last season and none ison that pace — but its play is trending up with nine regular-season games remaining.
“I’d say right now we’re playing really well,” Karlsson said. “Maybe the best we have this season. It’s been a little bit of a roller coaster for our line this year. We’re not happy with how we’ve been playing. It’s nice that we can contribute again and be a threat.”
Defenseman Jon Merrill was given a citation by Oklahoma state Sen. Shane Stone before the Knights’ 2-1 win against the Dallas Stars on Friday.
Merrill, a Oklahoma City native, is one of five Oklahoma-born players in NHL history. He ranks second in games played (299) and points (52) out of that group behind former center Tyler Arnason.
“It was quite an experience to go to Dallas, Texas, and recognize an Oklahoman for his role in the game of hockey,” Stone said. “The cherry on top was to see that Oklahoman showcase his skills and beat a Texas team in their own arena.”
The Knights scored 13 goals in their last two games. Only once in a two-game span this season have they scored more — in a 6-0 victory over the Sharks on Nov. 24 followed by an 8-3 rout of the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 27.
The stretch was impressive considering the goals came with the Knights playing on back-to-back days. The team’s previous top goal total in a back-to-back this season was nine against the Los Angeles Kings (4-1) and Arizona Coyotes (5-1) on Dec. 29-30.