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3 Knights players leave road trip, unavailable Saturday

Updated March 24, 2023 - 5:08 pm

Bruce Cassidy thought it might have been because of a slash. Or an equipment issue.

The Golden Knights coach didn’t realize right away why Logan Thompson skated to the bench in the third period of the team’s 3-2 win against the Calgary Flames on Thursday. Or that he wouldn’t have his goaltender for the rest of the night.

Thompson left his first start in six weeks with 6:07 remaining with a lower-body injury. The Knights are now trying to determine the severity.

Thompson and left wing Reilly Smith, who also suffered a lower-body injury Thursday, left the team’s road trip to be evaluated and will miss Saturday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

Defenseman Alec Martinez is also away from the Knights for personal reasons and won’t play in Edmonton.

“Hopefully, they’re all short-term (absences),” Cassidy said. “(Thompson and Smith will) get looked at by our medical team there and we’ll see.”

The news leaves the Knights short-handed for an important game against a division rival. The Oilers, who they also host at T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, are six points behind them in the Pacific Division standings with 10 games remaining.

Thompson’s injury is a difficult blow because of all the adversity the Knights have faced in the crease. They’ve used a franchise-record five starting goaltenders since the All-Star break, a carousel that started when he sustained a lower-body injury Feb. 9 in Minnesota.

The Knights fortunes in net appeared to be turning when Thompson and Laurent Brossoit, who is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury, traveled with the club this trip. Things are up in the air again after Calgary native Thompson got hurt in his hometown.

“Always fun to play at home!” Thompson wrote on Instagram on Friday. “Hope to be back soon.”

The only thing that’s certain is the importance of two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick, a potential season-saving insurance policy acquired before the trade deadline. Quick has been solid since his arrival with a 5-1 record, .908 save percentage and 2.93 goals-against average. He made five saves cold off the bench Thursday to seal a close win.

“He’s an unreal goalie, right?” right wing Jonathan Marchessault said to AT&T SportsNet. “He’s a future Hall of Famer. Definitely, he’s been through every situation and he knows how to handle it. I mean, he gave us the win there. They have a lot of Grade-A (chances) at the end there and he was huge.”

The Knights have options to replace Thompson and the other missing players.

Cassidy said it’s possible Brossoit, who is 1-0-2 with a .936 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average, is ready to dress tomorrow after sitting out the team’s last 13 games.

Right wing Keegan Kolesar has a chance to take Smith’s place if he’s ready to return from his upper-body injury. Kolesar, who has missed six straight games, was a full participant in Thursday’s morning skate. If he isn’t ready to go, rookie left wing Paul Cotter can play after being a healthy scratch Thursday.

Veteran Ben Hutton will take Martinez’s spot. Hutton last played Jan. 28 because the Knights haven’t had a single defenseman miss a game since the All-Star break. It’s been a key part of their NHL-best 16-3-2 record in that span.

The Knights will need to find a way to keep that going with a new lineup and possibly a new goaltender tandem Saturday. Cassidy has said numerous times he’s never been through a year like this before in the crease. The Knights have to hope things settle down soon with the playoffs starting in less than four weeks.

“We just have to end up with two healthy ones at some point, you know?” Cassidy said. “Right now we have that. It looks like LB’s very close. That’s the good news.”

Contact Ben Gotz at bgotz@reviewjournal.com. Follow @BenSGotz on Twitter.

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