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3 takeaways from Knights’ win: Big third-period rally to beat Devils

Updated March 17, 2024 - 5:37 pm

With urgency being a strong talking point the past few days, the Golden Knights found themselves in need of it yet again in the third period Sunday.

Once they grabbed that momentum this time, they didn’t let it go.

The Knights scored all of their goals in the third period and rallied back to win 3-1 over the New Jersey Devils at T-Mobile Arena.

The third period has been a struggle for the Knights (36-24-7), with nine goals allowed in their last three final frames entering Sunday.

New Jersey (32-32-4) opened the scoring 38 seconds into the third when center Nico Hischier scored on a rebound.

While a slow build, the Knights found their game.

Left wing William Carrier scored 2:19 later, his first goal since returning to the lineup after missing two months due to upper-body surgery, to tie it 1-1.

Center Jack Eichel broke the tie at 11:06 with a shot from the high slot.

“We didn’t let one (goal) become two, which has been a problem,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “That’s a big positive for us. We got to our game. … Those are good things we can definitely build off.”

Goalie Logan Thompson made 20 saves in his first start since March 2, giving the Knights their third win in four games.

Defenseman Noah Hanifin had two assists, giving him four in five games since the Knights acquired him in a trade with the Calgary Flames on March 6.

Leads have also been a recent problem. The Knights struggled to hold leads against Detroit, Seattle and Calgary but still won two of those games.

Hanifin said the Knights didn’t sit back this time after taking the 2-1 lead. It was a concerted effort to cross the finish line.

“Whenever you have a lead, the hardest thing to do is you want to go out and make those plays,” Hanifin said. “Usually you want to sit back and defend, but we didn’t do that at all tonight.”

While one of the Knights’ deadline acquisitions played a strong game, so did the Devils’ top addition.

Goalie Jake Allen, coming over from Montreal, made 34 saves and made key stops to keep the game goalless.

It wasn’t until Carrier deflected defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s shot from the left circle that the Knights found an answer.

“Give the goalie credit. I thought he had some huge saves for them,” Eichel said. “I thought we just stuck with it.”

Here are three takeaways from the game:

1. New third pairing

Cassidy made an eye-raising change on the blue line that paid off.

Defensemen Zach Whitecloud and Nic Hague, who have played together for nearly three years, were healthy scratches in place of veterans Ben Hutton and Alec Martinez.

Hutton, 30, played the 500th game of his NHL career, while the 36-year-old Martinez returned after missing two weeks due to a foot injury.

The Knights outshot the Devils 12-2 with Hutton and Martinez on the ice.

“Tough decision for Nic and (Whitecloud), who have played well for us,” Cassidy said. “A good problem to have for the coach when you have eight guys who can play.”

2. Key challenge victory

The Knights got the benefit from an early overturned Devils goal.

New Jersey right wing Dawson Mercer appeared to score 1:44 into the game, but left wing Timo Meier was called for goaltender interference after bumping into Thompson.

The goal came off the board.

3. No. 500 for Barbashev

Hutton wasn’t the only one hitting the half-century milestone.

Top-line left wing Ivan Barbashev also played his 500th NHL game, registering one shot in 18:53.

Barbashev is two goals from 100 in his career. He has 38 points (14 goals, 24 assists) in his first season of a five-year, $25 million contract he signed with the Knights this past offseason.

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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