weather icon Partly Cloudy

William Karlsson’s confidence on rise after spectacular assist

Updated February 6, 2019 - 11:59 pm

DETROIT — William Karlsson’s between-the-legs dangle to set up Valentin Zykov for the tying goal Tuesday is the play many will remember from the Golden Knights’ thrilling win at Tampa Bay.

And rightfully so.

But there was another moment from that game involving Karlsson that was significant in a larger context.

A little more than two minutes into the overtime, Karlsson picked up the puck in the neutral zone, avoided Tampa Bay’s Nikita Kucherov at the blue line and skated down the right wing with Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman in pursuit.

Rather than send a backhand toward the net, Karlsson avoided Hedman’s poke-check by tucking the puck between his legs while at full speed and tried to shoot.

Sure, he ended up whiffing. That’s not the point.

For a player whose confidence has wavered at times, the fact Karlsson even tried such an audacious move in OT is a positive development for the Knights.

“I think if I pulled it off, I might have scored. I don’t think anyone saw it coming,” Karlsson said. “It was too bad I fanned on it. … But I was feeling it at the end of the game there, and I want to give the fans at least one stick-between-the-legs goal.”

Karlsson scored on a similar bold, through-the-legs move against San Jose last season when he was able to play with a quiet fearlessness.

But that trait was rarely on display until Tuesday, as Karlsson has struggled to duplicate his 43-goal, 35-assist output.

Entering Thursday’s matchup against the Detroit Red Wings at Little Caesars Arena, Karlsson had three points in the past 14 games.

“He’s playing hard, he’s playing well. But the bottom line is, these guys want points,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “And they did it last year and they know they can do it. They’ve just got to get going and keep playing hard, and it’s going to come. (Tuesday) night was a confident game for him, so it’s a step in the right direction.”

Karlsson is third on the team with 33 points in 55 games and is on pace for a 24 goals and 25 assists. That would be a more-than-respectable total had he not set the bar so high last season.

Part of the reason for the dip in production is Karlsson’s shooting percentage. After converting on 23.4 percent of his shots last season, he is down to 14.2 percent, which is still above the league average of approximately 10 percent.

“We know that for guys like me and Karly, I think it’s just a matter of time that we’re going to show up,” linemate Jonathan Marchessault said. “But we just need to stay patient and work hard and see where it brings us.”

Karlsson was unable to agree on a long-term contract with the Knights last summer and will be a restricted free agent with arbitration rights after the season. But he said that hasn’t been a distraction.

“Obviously it’s there in the back of my head, to be honest, but it’s nothing that I can blame to weigh me down because it’s not why I haven’t scored as much this year,” Karlsson said. “It’s up to myself really. I think it’s more on me that I haven’t produced like I have last year.”

Karlsson’s play on a give-and-go with Zykov against Tampa Bay could be what he needs to get going offensively.

Zykov’s pass was slightly behind Karlsson, but he slid the puck between his legs to get around Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn and threw a no-look pass across the slot for Zykov to bury into the open net.

”It was good for the confidence to get that assist,” Karlsson said. “Hopefully I can bring that into the next game and keep working from there and try to be a producing player again.”

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Golden Knights Videos
Aliens Invade City National Arena for Competition
Aliens attended the City National Arena for a competition to see who was best dressed. The prize was out of this world. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Golden Knights rally to beat Kings in OT, 3-2
The Golden Knights were down 2-0 halfway through the third period, but two quick goals helped get the team back on track to beat the Kings 3-2 in overtime.
Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland Shares Advice with Rookies - Video
Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland has some advice for rookies: “Stick with what got you there.” The veteran NHL player also recalls his first goal as a pro.
Golden Knights Continue Preseason Success with Win Over Avalanche - Video
The Golden Knights prospects are continuing to prove they are worthy of a starting position, this time with a shutout 5-0 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
Golden Knights Head Coach Gerard Gallant Praises Prospects - Video
A day after the Golden Knights 6-2 preseason victory over the Arizona Coyotes, head coach Gerard Gallant discussed how impressed he is with the prospects, including defensemen Nicolas Hague and Dylan Coghlan.
Golden Knights On First Preseason Win - Video
The Golden Knights talk about their first preseason win including Max Pacioretty's hat trick and putting Malcolm Subban as the goaltender for tonight's game.
Golden Knights Zamboni Lessons 101 - Video
The Golden Knights preseason tips off on Sunday, Sept. 15 and you know what that mean, it's time to roll out the zamboni! Have you ever wondered what it takes to be a zamboni operator for the Golden Knights? Golden Edge host Cassie Soto finds out!
Allegiant Unveils Golden Knights Plane - Video
Allegiant air officially unveils its new Golden Knights airbus that will take to the skies soon.
Golden Knights Rookie Camp: 3 Takeaways - Video
Vegas Golden Knights rookies took to the ice on Friday morning for practice at City National Arena. While the rookies mainly participated in drills, it was good to see the prospects get ice time. Golden Knights beat writers David Schoen and Ben Gotz discuss their three takeaways from the practice.
Golden Knights Host Charity Golf Classic - Video
The Golden Knights held its 2019 Charity Golf Classic on Wednesday at TPC Summerlin. Before teeing off, Golden Knights players Ryan Reaves, Jonathan Marchassault and Alex Tuch said who they thought were the worst and best golfers on their team.
Ryan Reaves performs wedding ceremony
Reverand Reavo makes his debut for one time only at the Chapel of Flowers for a get married by Ryan Reaves contest.
Vegas Golden Knights President Kerry Bubolz on the Golden Edge Podcast
Review-Journal reporters Ben Gotz and David Schoen talk with Golden Knights president Kerry Bubolz about his experiences with LeBron James, the team's new initiatives, a possible MLS expansion team and more.
George McPhee Conference Call on Nikita Gusev trade - VIDEO
Golden Knights President of Operations George McPhee answers questions on a conference call about the teams most recent trade of Nikita Gusev to the New Jersey Devils.
Vegas Golden Knight's Deryk Engelland Happy to Re-Sign - Video
Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Deryk Engelland is happy to stay in Las Vegas after signing a one-year deal with the team.
Golden Aces hold Tryouts For 2019-2020 Season - Video
The Golden Aces hold tryouts for the 2019-2020 season for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knight's owner Bill Foley's House for sale in The Ridges - Real Estate Millions
Vegas Golden Knights, Fleury Make Day for Critically Ill Teenager in ESPN “My Wish” - Video
A 13-year-old Las Vegas boy who has faced Hodgkin’s lymphoma is treated to a special day by the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights in a new ESPN “My Wish” Series feature debuting Wednesday, July 17, on SportsCenter. In the feature, Doron Coldwell spends a day with the team and even gets an opportunity to replace his favorite player, three-time Stanley Cup winner Marc-Andre Fleury, in the net.
Golden Knights Sell "Battle Worn Armor" To Season Ticket Holders - Video
The Golden Knights sell their "battle worn" apparel throughout both of the teams seasons including pucks, sticks, helmets and skates.
Summerlin 4th of July Parade - VIDEO
On July 4th Summerlin will be hosting the 25th annual Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade, an event that has grown massively over the years
Golden Knights McPhee talks on the first day of NHL free agency - VIDEO
Golden Knights incoming president of operations George McPhee addresses the media as free agency starts.
Golden Knights Trade Colin Miller as Development Camp ends - VIDEO
George McPhee speaks to the media following the end of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Knights Development Camp Day 4 - VIDEO
Nic Hague stands out at day 4 of Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Knights Hold First Scrimmage of Development Camp - Video
The first of three scrimmages was held at the 2019 Golden Knights Development Camp. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writers Adam Hill and David Schoen discuss what stood out to them.
Golden Knights George McPhee Discusses Erik Haula Trade - Video
A day after it was announced that Erik Haula had been traded to the Carolina Hurricanes, incoming President of Hockey Operations George McPhee spoke to the media discussing the move.
Golden Knights Trade Erik Haula - Video
The Golden Knights have traded Erik Haula to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for prospect Nicolas Roy. Golden Edge host Cassie Soto and Golden Knights beat writer Adam Hill discuss the trade.
Golden Knights Coaches Looking for Veterans to Step Up in Development Camp - Video
Day two of the 2019 Golden Knights Development Camp is in the books. Director of Player Development Wil Nichol says his staff is looking for the veterans of the camp to step up and be leaders to the younger guys, while at the same time doing their best to impress the coaching staff.
Golden Knights Draft Player with Strong Hockey Bloodlines - Video
The Golden Knights drafted Mason Primeau in the 5th round of the 2019 NHL Draft. Primeau is no stranger to professional hockey, both his dad (Wayne Primeau) and his uncle (Keith Primeau) played in the NHL.
Golden Knights Kelly McCrimmon Talks Development Camp - VIDEO
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon talks about what he expects from everyone at development camp on their first day.
Golden Knights Dylan Coghlan On Veteran Experience - VIDEO
Golden Knights defenseman Dylan Coghlan talks about his veteran experience playing in Chicago and development camp.
Golden Knights President George McPhee talks about Williams Karlsson's 8 year deal
George McPhee presser highlights June 25, 2019.
Golden Knights Center William Karlsson speaks to media about 8 year contract
William Karlsson presser highlights June 25, 2019.
Golden Knights Development Camp at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada
For the third consecutive year, Vegas Golden Knights Development Camp participants participated in a special community event at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada in Las Vegas. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye