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3 takeaways from Knights’ win: NHL’s best record since break

Updated March 14, 2023 - 8:16 pm

Alec Martinez started the Golden Knights’ four-game winning streak with a diving play on the puck. He kept it going Tuesday by doing the same thing.

Five days after poking in his overtime winner against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Martinez cleared a rebound from Philadelphia Flyers right wing Owen Tippett off the goal line with 4:38 remaining to preserve a 4-3 lead.

The Knights held on for a 5-3 victory at Wells Fargo Center, their fourth straight to end a five-game road trip.

It wasn’t a pretty win. The Knights almost allowed one of the NHL’s worst offensive teams to mount a third-period comeback. But they weren’t concerned about style points after playing in their fifth city in eight days.

They got the win to improve their record since the All-Star break to an NHL-best 13-2-2.

“The group showed a lot of resiliency,” center Jack Eichel said. “It was a long road trip. For us to get eight out of 10 (points) was pretty good.”

A late-season trip to Philadelphia was one of the Knights’ low points last season.

They lost 2-1 on March 8, 2022, to begin an 0-5 trip. That skid started their path to missing the playoffs for the first time.

The Knights have no such concerns leaving the city this time. They became the first team in the Western Conference to reach 90 points. They’re the fourth team in the NHL to hit that mark after Boston, Carolina and New Jersey.

But the Flyers made them work for it.

The Knights had a 3-1 lead after two periods after goals from rookie right wing Pavel Dorofeyev, left wing Ivan Barbashev and center Teddy Blueger. Right wing Jonathan Marchessault scored 3:01 into the third on the power play — stretching his goal streak to three games — to extend the advantage to 4-1.

But Philadelphia, ranked 30th in goals per game, fought back rather than fold. Defenseman Nick Seeler and center Morgan Frost scored 1:51 apart to cut the deficit to one goal.

The Flyers kept pushing after that, forcing Martinez to re-create his game-winning heroics from Tampa on the other end of the ice.

Barbashev added an empty-net goal to cap the trip. The Flyers, who fired general manager Chuck Fletcher on Friday, lost their fourth straight.

“Found ways to win,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We’re not perfect. Most teams aren’t. … If we can get out of some of these lulls, it’ll be a little easier on us, but at the end of the day, the object is to win the game, and we did.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Power-play switch

The Knights, mired in a 4-for-48 slump since captain Mark Stone’s back injury, made a change to their first power-play unit.

Defenseman Shea Theodore moved from the blue line to the right circle. Center Jack Eichel took Theodore’s spot at the point.

Coincidence or not, the Knights proceeded to score two power-play goals in a game for the first time since Dec. 21. Theodore assisted on one goal and Eichel on the other.

“It felt a little different,” Eichel said. “I’m still getting used to it.”

2. Quick start

Goaltender Jonathan Quick, sporting a new mask, made 27 saves to improve to 4-0 since his trade March 2 from the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Quick matched Malcolm Subban for the second-longest win streak to begin a Knights’ tenure. Robin Lehner and Adin Hill started 5-0.

Quick, 37, also matched John Vanbiesbrouck for the second-most wins by an American goaltender with 374. Only Ryan Miller (391) has more.

3. Newcomers contribute

Barbashev and Blueger, like fellow pre-deadline acquisition Quick, have contributed immediately.

Barbashev’s two goals give him eight points in his first nine games with the team. Blueger’s first goal with the Knights gives him four points in his first seven games.

“Everyone’s been super welcoming,” Blueger said. “The guys have just been so awesome, and that goes a long way.”

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

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