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3 takeaways from Golden Knights’ win: New goalie wins in debut

Updated March 6, 2023 - 10:38 am

The announced crowd of 18,049 Sunday at T-Mobile Arena roared with approval when Jonathan Quick stopped center Jonathan Drouin’s one-timer with 19 seconds remaining.

The goaltender’s first start with the Golden Knights hit a speed bump in the third period when he allowed three goals to the Montreal Canadiens. But he moved across his crease for the stop that saved a 4-3 victory.

“That’s the save we needed,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “He got it.”

Quick’s final act gave him his 371st NHL win and the first of his 16-year career not with the Los Angeles Kings. The 37-year-old experienced a whirlwind week after being traded twice in two days.

His Knights teammates and fans did their best to settle him in. He finished with 25 saves to help his new team win its third straight.

“I felt pretty comfortable right from the get-go,” Quick said. “Different setting and different color jersey and everything, but once you get out there, you’re just trying to play hockey.”

Quick is used to T-Mobile Arena being a hostile environment.

The two-time Stanley Cup winner had numerous battles with the Knights in the Pacific Division, including a first-round playoff series in 2018. That changed Sunday.

Quick received a massive ovation when he was announced as the Knights’ starter three days after his trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets. He acknowledged the crowd before the national anthems by waving his glove hand.

“Definitely a warm reception,” Quick said.

The Knights (38-19-6) tried to make him feel welcome on the ice, too.

They gave up only five shots on goal in the first period. They also staked Quick to a 2-0 lead with goals from defenseman Shea Theodore and left wing Ivan Barbashev. The advantage grew to 3-0 in the second when left wing Reilly Smith scored.

The Knights then “lost our way there for a while,” Cassidy said. That allowed the Canadiens (26-33-4) to rally in the third period.

Defenseman Mike Matheson got Montreal’s first goal 2:04 in. Barbashev pushed the Knights’ lead to 4-1 when a puck deflected off his shoulder 5:40 later, but the Canadiens weren’t deterred.

Right wing Alex Belzile and left wing Rafael Harvey-Pinard scored 35 seconds apart to make it a 4-3 game 8:42 into the third period. Cassidy called the Knights’ timeout to give his team a chance to reset.

The Knights improved to 8-0-1 in their past nine home games. Quick became the team’s fourth goaltender to get a win this season, which ties a franchise record.

“He’s been an amazing goalie for a large part of his career,” Theodore said. “It’s good to see him on our side.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. New guys contribute

Quick wasn’t the only trade acquisition who made an impact.

Barbashev’s two goals gave him five points in four games since arriving from the St. Louis Blues. His line with center Jack Eichel and right wing Jonathan Marchessault has seemed to form immediate chemistry.

“We’re not trying to put a lot of pressure (on ourselves),” Barbashev said. “Just (play a) simple game. And that’s it. And that’s been working well so far.”

Center Teddy Blueger assisted on Theodore’s goal for his first point with the Knights. Blueger was added Wednesday in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

2. Theodore stays hot

The All-Star break seems to have been beneficial for Theodore, who missed nearly two months with a lower-body injury and returned two games before the Knights took a breather.

The 27-year-old has 12 points in 12 games since play resumed. He ranks seventh in scoring among NHL defensemen in that span.

“I’m just trying to throw pucks on net,” Theodore said. “Obviously, there’s stretches where you feel like it’s going in. That was tonight.”

3. Rare scrap

Defenseman Alec Martinez fought Canadiens defenseman Johnathan Kovacevic with 9:18 to play after an open-ice hit on rookie left wing Paul Cotter.

It was only the third fight of Martinez’s career and second with the Knights. Cotter tapped the penalty-box glass with his stick afterward to thank Martinez.

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

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