Ryan Reaves and William Carrier finished the regular season among the NHL leaders in hits, so it’s no surprise they’re at the top of the leaderboard again in the playoffs.
The bruising Golden Knights forwards have been fearless in finishing their checks against the San Jose Sharks, and they take pride in wearing down their opponents . Carrier delivered 11 hits Sunday in the Knights’ 6-3 victory, tying the team playoff record he set in Game 2 of the first-round series with the Los Angeles Kings last year, and Reaves added eight shots to various Sharks.
That’s paying dividends three games into the series, and coach Gerard Gallant praised their line that’s centered by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
“They are momentum guys,” Gallant said. “They finish checks, they take very few penalties, they play the game the right way for a so-called fourth line, and they’re all character guys. They do their job real well, and that’s what we need from our group. For me (Sunday in Game 3), they were as good as our top line for the role they play on our hockey team.”
Reaves (305) led the league and Carrier (277) was fourth in hits during the regular season, and the two are tied for first (Carrier with 22) and sixth (Reaves with 15) in the playoffs prior to Tuesday’s games.
They’ve done well to bruise the Sharks’ bodies, give their team energy and stay out of the penalty box. The pair have been called for four penalties in the series, but only two led to a Sharks’ power play.
“They’ve got a great power play so we can’t give them anything, but we still have to do our job out there,” Carrier said. “I don’t think we had any dirty hits or anything. We play pretty clean, but we do finish every check.”
Reaves vs. Kane
Ryan Reaves and Evander Kane finally dropped the gloves Sunday after years of antagonizing each other.
Reaves appeared to emerge victorious, according to HockeyFights.com. As of Tuesday afternoon there were 75 votes on the outcome of the fight, with 50 giving it to Reaves, 11 siding with Kane and 14 scoring it a draw.
“Finally happened, eh?” Reaves said. “That was nine years of waiting for that, so that was fun.”
Reaves said he wished he would’ve stood Kane up at the end of the fight to get a few more punches in, but ultimately the bout didn’t change his opinion of his foe.
“A little bit, but not a lot to be honest,” Reaves said. “I’m not going to ever really respect that guy.”
Thanks to winger Mark Stone’s goal 16 seconds into Game 3, the Knights have scored eight goals within the first five minutes of their seven meetings with the Sharks this season.
The Knights have scored 14 goals within the first five minutes of all periods, with three coming Sunday night as they became the second team in NHL playoff history (along with the 1980-81 Boston Bruins) to score a goal within the first minute of each period.
Stone scored 16 seconds into the first, center Paul Stastny scored 21 seconds into the second and Stone struck again 36 seconds into the third.
“Every game we talk to our players, ‘Let’s get out to a good start,’ ” Gallant said. “No coach says anything different. No coach says ‘Let’s go out there and trap the first five minutes.’ Everybody wants to get out to a good start. It’s important in a hockey game. Obviously, it was a big part of the game last night.”