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3 takeaways: Knights stay hot, bury Canucks — PHOTOS

Updated April 2, 2024 - 11:58 pm

Thousands of glow sticks flickered throughout T-Mobile Arena. The roar from the crowd was mixed with support from those wearing gold and those from north of the border.

Such an atmosphere would signify it was a playoff game.

The Golden Knights played like it was one.

Right wing Jonathan Marchessault scored his 41st goal of the season and had two assists, and the Knights used a four-goal first period to fuel a 6-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

“A lot going on,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “A lot of good.”

The Knights are eight points back of the Canucks for first place in the Pacific Division with seven games to play.

A first-round playoff series between the teams seemed likely two weeks ago. It’s not looking that way now.

The Knights (42-25-8) extended their points streak to seven games (6-0-1), and they are 9-2-1 in their last 12. Center Jack Eichel scored and had an assist, and goalie Logan Thompson made 27 saves for his sixth consecutive victory.

The win pushed the Knights to a five-point lead on the Los Angeles Kings for third place in the division. Los Angeles has lost three in a row.

“It’s just been clicking lately,” center William Karlsson said.

Three words encompassed the Knights’ fast start — transition, execution and breakouts.

The Knights opened the scoring 1:37 in when right wing Anthony Mantha finished a rebound after left wing Pavel Dorofeyev was stopped on a breakaway.

Marchessault, now two goals from tying Karlsson’s single-season franchise record of 43 in 2017-18, scored at 6:23 off a transition chance following a clean breakout.

Eichel scored at 9:40 after his line converted a three-on-two rush, and defenseman Noah Hanifin scored on the power play five minutes later to make it 4-1.

“Just a really good start,” said left wing Ivan Barbashev, who had two assists in the period. “Getting one really quick and then another one right after. I think that was probably the biggest part of our win.”

Defense was the hallmark recently for both teams.

The Knights gave up 17 goals in their previous eight games. Vancouver, playing its ninth straight game without star goalie Thatcher Demko, allowed 19 goals in the previous eight games.

It’s the first time the Knights have scored six goals in a game since Feb. 27 in a 6-2 win at Toronto.

The six goals allowed by the Canucks are the most since a 10-7 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Feb. 19.

While the Knights’ chances of winning a second straight division title are unlikely, they helped the cause Tuesday.

The teams meet again Monday at Rogers Arena in Vancouver.

“There’s a lot at stake,” Karlsson said. “We’re going to play them soon again, so we have to try and match today.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Power play comes alive

The Knights’ man advantage has been a constant struggle. They entered Tuesday with the 21st-ranked power play at 18.3 percent.

It showed up in a big way against the Canucks with two power-play goals.

It’s the first time since Dec. 17 that the Knights scored multiple times on the man advantage. Hanifin’s goal ended an 0-for-8 drought, and Karlsson scored 1:46 into the second period during a five-minute major penalty.

“It was good to finally get one,” Hanifin said. “Just trying to get pucks on net, and it was nice to get one in front of the home crowd.”

It’s a small sample size to say the Knights have figured things out on the power play, but it was encouraging, even against the 15th-best penalty kill.

2. Another major review

The Knights were involved in a penalty review for the third straight game.

Canucks defenseman Nikita Zadorov was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding left wing Brett Howden with 10 seconds left in the first period.

After review, officials ejected Zadorov for the hit, and the Canucks played the rest of the game with five defensemen.

The Knights have been on both ends of these reviews. Defenseman Nic Hague avoided a major penalty for a check to the head on Winnipeg Jets forward Vlad Namestnikov on Thursday. Officials gave Hague a minor penalty after review.

On Saturday, Eichel received his first major penalty of the year for spearing Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov.

Karlsson’s goal was a result of the five-minute power play.

There was once a time the five-minute major meant something else for the Knights. So far, they’ve benefited more than not.

3. Quick responses

There have been times the Knights have allowed a goal and it would bleed into two, sometimes three, to throw the game off track.

They were quick to stop the bleeding this time.

Eichel’s goal came 20 seconds after Canucks left wing Nils Hoglander poked a loose puck past Thompson.

After Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes scored his second of the game at 1:41 of the third, Howden answered 24 seconds later for the sixth goal.

“They weren’t cheap goals. They were good goals and good plays when we got back to it,” Cassidy said. “You have to have that mindset, especially with what’s coming up. You can’t dwell on what didn’t go right, especially in game. You’ve got to move on. We did a good job of that tonight.”

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

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