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3 takeaways: Knights win in OT when Wild’s goalie move backfires

Updated March 30, 2024 - 6:15 pm

It was deemed the most important road trip of the Golden Knights’ season.

The end result? A nearly flawless trek through the Central Division.

Jonathan Marchessault scored an empty-net goal 3:30 into overtime to give the Knights a 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild on Saturday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Knights wrapped up a four-game road trip earning seven of a possible eight points and extending their point streak to six games (5-0-1).

Right wing Michael Amadio scored, and goalie Logan Thompson made 32 saves for his fifth consecutive win to help the Knights (41-25-8) improve to 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.

“For our team, we showed a lot of resilience the last few weeks,” Marchessault said.

Scoring an empty-net goal in overtime isn’t a common finish. The Wild (35-28-10) were in desperate need of two points to keep their playoff hopes alive, however.

Minnesota pulled goalie Filip Gustavsson to spring a four-on-three with less than two minutes remaining.

It’s not the first time the Wild did that this month. They pulled Marc-Andre Fleury in overtime March 10 against the Nashville Predators, and forward Matt Boldy scored the winning goal.

Fate did not strike twice. Marchessault received a pass from center William Karlsson and scored from the defensive blue line to end the game.

According to NHL rules, if a team gives up a goal after pulling the goalie in overtime, they lose the earned overtime point.

Coach Bruce Cassidy told his players before overtime began to expect the Wild to pull Gustavsson. The 25-year-old Swedish goaltender was Minnesota’s best player, making 29 saves.

“We kind of saw it all over (the) media,” center Chandler Stephenson said. “It was something that was definitely brought to our attention, and obviously nice to finish it off.”

It was also a milestone moment for the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

Marchessault’s goal was his 40th of the season, making him the second player in franchise history to reach that mark. Karlsson had 43 goals during the Knights’ inaugural season.

“It was good hockey from us,” Marchessault said. “In overtime, we kind of got lucky.”

It took until 6:17 remaining in regulation before the Knights finally broke through.

Stephenson received a stretch pass from defenseman Alec Martinez, drove toward the net and centered the puck to Amadio for a one-timer from the slot.

Offense was hard to come by. It wasn’t easier for the Knights when they lost center Jack Eichel.

Eichel was ejected at 14:03 of the second period for spearing Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov with his stick.

Eichel was assessed the first major penalty of his NHL career and a game misconduct. Kaprizov scored on the five-minute Wild power play 2:41 later to open the scoring.

That was the only puck that beat Thompson, who has allowed five goals — one in each start —over his last five victories.

That stretch has put the Knights firmly into playoff positioning, remaining four points behind the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division with eight games remaining.

It’s winning time. The Knights are showing up on the dot.

“To give up only one, you’re still in the game,” Cassidy said. “You’re at the end of a road trip, and you have to dig down a little. We did. We’re a winning team for a reason.”

Here are three takeaways from the win:

1. Continued brilliance

Another start, another stellar performance from Thompson.

His win pushed him to 5-0-0 in six appearances since March 17, and he’s been the best goalie in the league in that stretch.

Not only are his 1.13 goals allowed and .962 save percentage tops in the league the last two weeks, but his five-on-five numbers are even better.

He’s allowed less than a goal per game — 0.93 — and has a .964 save percentage when playing at five-on-five.

It’s the sixth time in eight games the Knights have allowed two goals or fewer.

2. Defensemen return

After missing the previous six games with an illness, defenseman Alex Pietrangelo returned and was a plus-2 in 23:11.

He wasn’t the only one back. Pietrangelo was reunited with defense partner Martinez, who was a healthy scratch the previous four games, both skating on the third pairing. Ben Hutton and Zach Whitecloud were the healthy scratches Saturday.

Cassidy decided to keep the top pair of Noah Hanifin and Nic Hague intact. They were a plus-5 together in Pietrangelo’s absence.

3. In rare company

Marchessault became the fourth undrafted player in the last 20 years to reach the 40-goal mark, joining New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin last season, Jason Blake in 2007 with the New York Islanders and Martin St. Louis with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2007.

The 11-year veteran also became the 11th player in league history to record his first 40-goal season in his 11th year or later. Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele did it last season with 42.

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

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