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3 takeaways from Knights’ win: Reflecting on tragedy back home

Updated December 6, 2023 - 10:07 pm

Forward William Karlsson didn’t specify how the chat went or what exactly was discussed during the first intermission at Enterprise Center in St. Louis on Wednesday.

But he did acknowledge that it worked.

“We had a good talk and came out like a new team,” Kalrlsson said. “Obviously it turned the game around.”

The Golden Knights scored four times in the second period to turn a two-goal deficit into a two-goal lead and went on to a 6-3 win over the Blues.

Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists, scoring in his fourth consecutive game, and former Blues forward Ivan Barbashev added two assists in the victory for the Knights (17-5-5).

St. Louis (13-11-1) scored three times in a 7:57 stretch after surrendering an early goal to Zach Whitecloud and had a 3-1 lead at the first intermission.

“We started, I thought, well,” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Then we had a lull, and they took advantage. We talked about it between periods and got to our game.”

After Eichel cut the deficit in half midway through the second period, Jonathan Marchessault and Keegan Kolesar scored 27 seconds apart to put the Knights back in front.

Kolesar, who also added an assist, spent several minutes on the ice after Monday’s morning skate working on deflecting shots in front of the net.

That’s how his goal came Wednesday.

“It’s nice to see the work you put in pay off,” he said. “It makes you hungry to practice more and get in those positions.”

Michael Amadio scored on the power play with 18 seconds remaining in the second period to give the Knights an insurance goal.

William Karlsson added an empty-net goal. Karlsson, Marchessault and Eichel are all tied for the team lead with 12 goals.

The Knights have earned points in six straight games and next play the Stars in Dallas on Saturday.

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Knights rattle the Blues

The onslaught of goals appeared to frustrate the Blues, who thought they were on their way to a second consecutive win over the defending champions after their 2-1 overtime victory Monday at T-Mobile Arena.

St. Louis definitely got thrown off its game by the rally.

The Blues gave the Knights a franchise-high eight power plays in the game, including an unsportsmanlike conduct call in the third period for all the complaining coming from the bench.

Goaltender Jordan Binnington also appeared close to drawing a call for expressing his displeasure to the official as he left the ice following a four-goal second period.

The Knights were able to generate 18 shots on those power plays, also a franchise record.

Marchessault and Amadio both scored on the man-advantage, giving the Knights four straight games with a power-play goal.

2. Milestone

Marchessault’s second-period goal was his 12th of the season and the 200th NHL goal of his career.

“When you hit those milestones, it’s fun to reflect on where you’ve come from and how hard it was to get here,” he said on the broadcast between the second and third period. “I’m always proud of my road to the NHL, but there’s always room to improve.”

That road certainly wasn’t a direct path. Marchessault was undrafted in 2011 despite an illustrious junior career.

He added 98 goals in six AHL seasons before becoming a full-time NHL player and eventually a Conn Smythe winner.

“It just keeps on going for me,” he said. “I came from such an extended road to the NHL, definitely a lot of zigzags along the way. But I got here and I keep pushing to help my team win hockey games, and that’s something I’m really proud of.”

It was perhaps fitting that Karlsson got the assist on the goal. It was a no-look backhand pass across the crease that left Marchessault with an easy finish. He downplayed the degree of difficulty by saying Marchessault was just in the spot he was supposed to be in, but it’s the kind of understanding that comes with years of playing together.

“To have the apple on his 200th is a little bit poetic, I would say,” Karlsson said of his longtime linemate and fellow original Knight. “I’m very honored it was me.”

3. Standing in solidarity

The Blues opened the game with a tribute to the victims of the campus shooting at UNLV and observed a moment of silence in the arena shortly before the national anthem.

The scoreboard in the arena displayed a UNLV logo as the lights dimmed during a brief announcement expressing support for the Las Vegas community.

“The city means everything to us,” Kolesar said. “We’re all pretty heartbroken. The moment of silence before the game was a real class act by them. Just like we have in the past, we’re going to rally around the city and try to give back to it as much as we can and try to help heal it as much as we can.”

It’s a situation the Knights understand all too well.

“We’re a family in Las Vegas,” Whitecloud said. “This city has been through a lot. It’s a city that sticks together no matter where you’re from or how long you’ve lived there. This team feels the support of the community every single night, and we’re always there for our community. Obviously it’s a difficult day, but we’re there for the community, and we stand with Las Vegas always.”

Karlsson was one of the players who was on the Knights when the 1 October tragedy rocked the community just before the start of the team’s inaugural season.

The shock of what happened back home was an all too familiar feeling when he woke up from a nap to the news.

“Absolutely horrific,” Karlsson said. “Our thoughts are with UNLV and the Vegas community. I know it’s not much, but we gave them a win for at least a little something to cheer about tonight.”

It’s just the beginning of the healing process.

“We’re going to help the community heal as much as possible,” Marchessault said. “Vegas is our home and it’s really sad we have to go through this again, but we’ll be there for everybody, whoever needs it.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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