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3 takeaways: Knights break through late for important road win

Updated March 29, 2024 - 7:18 pm

The wave of momentum is at an all-time high for Logan Thompson.

The Golden Knights are happy to ride that wave as long as they can.

Thompson made a season-high 39 saves for his fourth consecutive victory, and the Knights broke a tie late in the third period for a 4-1 road victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday at Canada Life Centre.

“He’s been outstanding for us,” left wing Ivan Barbashev said.

Thompson has allowed one goal in each of those four starts, and that stellar play is coming at the right time.

Barbashev scored twice in the third period, and left wing Pavel Dorofeyev scored to help the Knights (40-25-8) extend their point streak to five games and improve to 7-2-1 in their last 10.

“Just a good third period. We stayed in the game,” Barbashev said. “We got a win, and that’s what’s really important for us right now.”

The Knights (88 points) moved into third place in the Pacific Division after the Los Angeles Kings lost 4-1 to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday.

The Kings have a game in hand on the Knights, but their percentage points lead dipped to .001 percent (.604 to .603).

The Knights’ goaltending has been inconsistent the last month. There were times Thompson, nor Adin Hill, put together stabilizing performances.

Concern grew louder when Hill went down with an undisclosed injury Saturday in a 4-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The responsibility fell on Thompson to deliver. So far, he’s done that.

He was responsible for 14 goals allowed in three appearances from Feb. 23 to March 2, including seven goals against the Buffalo Sabres.

The Knights have played better defensively since Thompson returned to the starter’s crease March 17, but Thompson is deserving of his flowers.

He leads the league with a .960 save percentage and has allowed 1.17 goals since then.

“On the road, you need that,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “Good for Logan. He’s been playing really well.”

The Knights killed off five Jets power plays, with Thompson making 12 short-handed saves.

The only goal allowed was a deflection by Jets center Sean Monahan at 3:31 of the second period. Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar was tripped by Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey, no penalty was called, and Monahan scored seconds later.

Other than that, Thompson battled against Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck for his best performance of the season.

“Those types of wins mean a little bit more,” Cassidy said. “They’re a playoff team. It’s a team we’ve developed some mutual hatred for. Those bring the best out of us.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Late penalty helps

The penalty kill did its part Thursday. A crucial review prevented a sixth Jets power play.

Knights defenseman Nic Hague was called for a check to the head of Jets forward Vlad Namestnikov with 8:37 remaining.

After the hit, Jets center Mark Scheifele instigated a quick fight with Hague that landed both in the penalty box.

Officials reviewed to see if Hague’s hit was intentional, which could have resulted in a five-minute major penalty.

The referees reduced it to a minor penalty, but Scheifele was given an offsetting instigating penalty to cancel out the man advantage.

Barbashev broke the 1-1 tie 3:08 later.

2. Third-line chemistry grows

William Karlsson has found himself some linemates.

The center’s line was responsible for three goals. Dorofeyev scored for the third time in four games, while right wing Anthony Mantha had the primary assist on Barbashev’s goal to give him a four-game point streak.

Dorofeyev has been consistent. His 12 goals are seventh-most among rookies. He’s scored in different ways, whether attacking the net, or with a wrist shot like his goal at 15:56 of the first.

Mantha’s production has been welcomed. After one goal in his first seven games with the Knights, Mantha has five assists in four games.

The 6-foot-5-inch forward has 40 points (21 goals, 19 assists) in a season for the first time since 2018-19.

“The first couple games, I think, kind of overthinking,” Mantha said. “I think our line’s been playing really well the last four or five games.”

3. Keep making history

This 7-year-old hockey team continues to defy logic.

The Knights became the only team in the league to win 40 games in each of their past four seasons.

That includes 40 wins in 2019-20 before the season was paused due to the pandemic, and 43 wins in the shortened 56-game season in 2020-21.

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

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