Updated April 1, 2019 - 11:27 pm
Tomas Nosek reached to block a shot by Edmonton’s Darnell Nurse early in the third period, and the Golden Knights forward had his stick knocked out of his hands in the process.
The lumber cartwheeled toward the slot, where Knights defenseman Shea Theodore calmly flipped it back into midair for his teammate to snatch without breaking stride.
On an otherwise ho-hum night, the stick trick might have been the most exciting moment of the Knights’ 3-1 victory before an announced crowd of 18,367 at T-Mobile Arena.
“I liked the way we played the game tonight,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “It was a perfect game for us. We had lots of scoring chances and played a good, solid game. That was the main thing for me. It’s nice to win, but I liked the way we played.”
Malcolm Subban made 18 saves to continue his dominance at home and end the Knights’ five-game winless streak.
Cody Eakin scored his second goal in as many games, and Jonathan Marchessault added his team-leading 25th in the second period for what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who missed five of the past six games, tallied an empty-netter with 6.6 seconds remaining for his first goal since Feb. 22.
“I think we know how we need to be successful,” Eakin said. “It’s good. Every game is important this time of year, and we want to build some good habits. Tonight was a good start, and we’ll continue that.”
Subban has come under fire for his inconsistent play of late but was steady from the opening faceoff against the Oilers.
He improved to 6-1-1 and lowered with goals-against average to 2.11 in nine appearances at home.
“I feel like there’s times our team, myself included, where we play well and then give up some chances or I let in a bad goal or something,” Subban said. “I feel like today was pretty consistent and a pretty good 60-minute game.”
The Knights entered Monday’s game locked into their spot in the Pacific Division, while Edmonton’s playoff hopes officially were extinguished during the first period when Colorado earned a point with its shootout loss at St. Louis.
With nothing at stake for either team, the atmosphere at times resembled a preseason game.
Edmonton was held to 39 shot attempts at 5-on-5 play and registered six high-danger scoring chances, according to the website NaturalStatTrick.
“Sometimes you can look at it like that and get a little lazy with your game and just try to get out of it,” right wing Ryan Reaves said. “But when we’re in a streak like we’ve been the last five games, you want to dig yourself out of it by playing against any team that’s coming in here. It’s good to do it in front of the home fans, too.”
Marchessault broke a personal six-game scoreless streak 51 seconds into the second period to put the Knights on top 2-0.
After shadowing Oilers star Connor McDavid in the defensive zone for most of the shift, Marchessault left his man and poked the puck away from Leon Draisatil at the blue line to create a breakaway.
Marchessault then beat Oilers goaltender Mikko Koskinen with a low backhand for his 25th goal, breaking a tie with William Karlsson for the team lead.
McDavid answered at 4:01 of the second when Zack Kassian found him alone in the slot, and the NHL’s second-leading scorer zipped a low shot past Subban. It was the 41st goal for McDavid, matching his career high set last season.
Neither team generated many chances in an uneventful first period, but Eakin was responsible for the one highlight when he put the Knights up 1-0 with 4:33 left.
After scooping up a loose puck in the neutral zone, Eakin used defenseman Andrej Sekera as a screen and snapped a shot through his legs that beat Koskinen high to the stick side for his 22nd goal.