Updated October 20, 2023 - 9:15 am
Logan Thompson admitted what was going through his head was “Holy crap.”
He saw left wing Cole Perfetti approach the rebound that Thompson had kicked out to his left after a Brenden Dillon slap shot. Thompson saw all the empty space on the left side of his net behind him. So, despite being on his knees, he scrambled up and threw every body part he could to his left.
None of them made contact with the puck. But Thompson’s stick did.
Logan. Thompson. pic.twitter.com/dSqUADuOJO
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) October 20, 2023
The brilliant paddle stop in the first period was the highlight of an incredible performance by the Golden Knights’ second-year netminder Thursday at Canada Life Centre. He made 35 saves in a 5-3 win to hold back an impressive effort by the Winnipeg Jets, who appeared eager to avenge their first-round playoff loss last season.
Thompson’s sharp start helped the Knights improve to 5-0 for the first time in franchise history. They’re the third defending Stanley Cup champion to win their first five games of the season, and the first since Wayne Gretzky’s 1985-86 Edmonton Oilers.
“I think that’s just the type of person I am,” Thompson said. “Being competitive and just trying (to do) anything I can to not get scored on. If that’s throwing a leg, a stick or an arm out there and it hitting me, then so be it.”
Thompson faced a familiar counterpart in net Thursday.
His old goalie partner, Laurent Brossoit, made his season debut for Winnipeg. Brossoit was the Knights’ starter in the playoffs when they beat the Jets in the first round, then signed a one-year, $1.75 million contract with Winnipeg this summer.
It’s the 30-year-old’s second stint with the Jets after serving as goaltender Connor Hellebuyck’s backup from 2018-21. But Brossoit’s return to Winnipeg was overshadowed by Thompson’s play in the other net.
The 26-year-old, making his second start this year, did give up a goal on a rebound chance by left wing Alex Iafallo 1:30 into the game. He settled in from there. His stop on Perfetti kept the game at 1-1 with one minute left in the first period, after right wing Jonathan Marchessault tied things up 1:18 earlier.
Thompson stayed strong as the Knights built a 3-1 lead thanks to second-period goals from Manitoba native Brett Howden and defenseman Alec Martinez. Perfetti did cut his team’s deficit to 3-2 with a backhand move four minutes before the second intermission, sparking a surge for the home team.
The first 11 shots on goal in the third period belonged to Winnipeg. Thompson did his best to protect the lead. The Knights just ended up asking too much.
Iafallo scored a power-play goal to tie the game with 8:28 remaining. It came on the 14th of 19 third-period shots for the Jets. Thompson didn’t concede again.
Instead, it was the Knights who came through with a power-play goal of their own from center Jack Eichel with 4:36 left. Center Nicolas Roy finished things off with an empty-net goal.
Brossoit ended with 22 saves in the loss. Thompson came away with his second victory in two starts. The 2023 All-Star has stopped 57 of the 61 shots he’s faced so far, including one that resulted in a save of the year candidate.
“He did an unbelievable job,” right wing Keegan Kolesar said. “He bailed so many of us out in so many key moments.”
Here are three takeaways from the win:
1. Power play comes through
The Knights scored two power-play goals eight times last season. They’re already on pace to blow that figure out of the water.
The Knights converted twice on the man advantage for the second time in five games Thursday. They’re 4-for-17 on the power play to start the season.
“We buried the looks we had,” coach Bruce Cassidy said.
The one special-teams slip-up came on the penalty kill. The Knights allowed a power-play goal for the first time this season on the 13th opportunity they faced. That snapped a 12-game kill streak for them that dated back to Game 5 of the Western Conference Final.
2. Cassidy’s magic touch
Cassidy, for the second straight win, saw a midgame adjustment pay off.
Howden scored after getting put on center Chandler Stephenson’s line with captain Mark Stone to start the second period. The goal came on the trio’s first shift together.
Cassidy moved center William Karlsson between Stephenson and Stone in the third period Tuesday with the Knights trailing 2-1 to the Dallas Stars. Karlsson scored a game-tying goal in an eventual 3-2 shootout win.
3. Martinez’s return
Martinez’s goal came in his season debut.
The 36-year-old sat out the Knights’ first four games with an upper-body injury, but became the 12th Knight to score this season and the 20th to record a point.
Martinez’s return boosts a blue line that’s been hit hard by injuries to start the year. Zach Whitecloud has yet to play after the Knights announced Oct. 5 he had surgery because of an upper-body he suffered in the preseason. Alex Pietrangelo has missed three straight games since being hit by a shot from Nic Hague on Oct. 12 in San Jose.
Kaedan Korczak, who scored his first NHL goal Tuesday, was a healthy scratch to get Martinez back in the lineup.