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Knights’ Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith won’t focus on revenge

Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault weren’t happy to see Gerard Gallant lose his job 13 months ago. But they agree with their former Florida Panthers coach and now their coach with the Golden Knights — it’s about the present, not the past.

The Knights host the Panthers at 5 p.m. Sunday at T-Mobile Arena, and Gallant will be the focus of attention, though he wishes he wasn’t. He wants his players to focus on picking up two points.

“It’s the bigger picture,” Smith said. “We want to make the most of this homestand.”

Marchessault said: “I’ve been with five organizations, so I’ve played against former teams before. It’s about keeping things going and staying on the winning track.”

Both players said Gallant’s firing was uncomfortable for them.

“It was a terrible experience, and it wasn’t fun to be part of that,” Marchessault said. “Obviously as players it was our fault because we weren’t winning as much as the organization wanted. It was unfortunate, and there’s not a lot of good memories of it.”

Smith said: “That happened in Carolina last year, and you don’t see things like that happen too often. It was disappointing what happened.”

Gallant is downplaying the game, but expect the Knights to give a little extra effort Sunday for their coach.

“Everyone had goosebumps and butterflies for Flower,” said Marchessault, referring to Marc-Andre Fleury and Thursday’s emotional win over Pittsburgh, Fleury’s former team. “I think you’ll see the same thing for Turk.”

Bjugstad’s anniversary

Saturday was the three-year anniversary of the longest shootout in NHL history, and Gallant was part of it as coach of the Panthers, who needed 20 rounds to defeat Washington on Dec. 16, 2014. Center Nick Bjugstad had the game winner in his second go-round.

“Every time they scored, one of our guys would score,” Gallant said. “Guys we didn’t expect to score scored. I was ready to leave the bench three or four times. Then Bjugstad scored a beautiful goal to win it.”

Bjugstad, who is with the Panthers for Sunday’s game, said it was a bizarre game.

“You saw guys who had never gone scoring and keeping it going.” he said. “For me, it was about the guys who scored in the 14th, 15th round to keep us going. It was no big deal for me to end it. ”

Bjugstad said he got lucky on his winning shot.

“The ice wasn’t very good at that point; a lot of pucks bouncing,” he said.

Carrier update

Will Carrier practiced Saturday, and though he was still in a red noncontact jersey, he was moving well and took part in all the drills. The forward suffered an upper-body injury Nov. 25 and has missed the past nine games.

“He looked really good,” Gallant said. “I don’t think he’s that far away, but I don’t want to say when he’ll be back.”

More Golden Knights: Follow all of our Golden Knights coverage online at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

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