Vegas Golden Knights’ offense shows signs of balanced scoring

Updated October 12, 2017 - 6:20 pm

James Neal is on pace to score 137 goals this season.

Obviously, that’s not going to happen. But while the Golden Knights’ veteran forward rides a hot hand with five goals in his first three games, Neal can take comfort in the fact his teammates are starting to join him on the stat sheet.

The Knights are starting to find some offensive balance. Forwards Oscar Lindberg and Tomas Nosek found the back of the net along with defenseman Deryk Engelland in Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Arizona at T-Mobile Arena. Forward Brendan Leipsic had two assists, and all four lines had at least one point against the Coyotes.

“Yeah, it felt good to see one go in,” said Nosek, who owns the distinction of having scored the first home goal for the Knights. “I’ve been getting a lot of good chances, so I was happy to finally score.”

From coach Gerard Gallant’s perspective, it was just a matter of time.

“If we’re going to be a successful team in our first year, it’s going to be a team effort,” he said Thursday of his four lines. “It can’t be one line or one guy scoring a lot of our goals for us.

“No matter what team you’re with, that’s what every coach says, you need scoring from your lineup, and it’s great when you’ve got guys like Nosek and those chipping in, and Engelland chipping in the other night. If we can get that, we’re going to win a lot of hockey games.”

The fact the third and fourth lines are making things happen is a sign that the chemistry is evolving. In addition to Leipsic’s two assists, Erik Haula, who centers the third line that includes William Karlsson, had an assist for his first point of the season. Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, who centers the fourth line that includes Nosek and Will Carrier, also had an assist against the Coyotes for his first point.

“It’s early in the season,” Leipsic said. “I’m trying to keep things simple, find myself and get used to my teammates. When I get my chances, I’m trying to take advantage of them.”

As for the current second line of Lindberg, Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault, only Marchessault has yet to dent the score sheet. But he has had some quality chances and Gallant said it’s just a matter of time before Marchessault, a 30-goal scorer last year with the Florida Panthers, breaks through.

“I’m not worried,” said Gallant, who coached Marchessault in Florida. “It’s only three games. (Marchessault) knows how to score. He just needs to have one go in for him and he’ll be fine.”

Meanwhile, the Knights’ top line of Neal, Cody Eakin and David Perron continues to produce. Perron has two assists and Eakin one. But both are getting good looks at the net when they’re not trying to set up Neal and they’ve found a comfort level playing alongside each other.

“It gets better with every game,” Perron said. “Obviously, James is off to a fast start and we’re looking for him. But we’re also trying to score as well. It’s been a lot of fun so far playing with (Neal and Eakin).”

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

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