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Fourth line wills Golden Knights to historic comeback

The greatest comeback in Golden Knights history started in the most unlikely of places.

It was the fourth line that willed the Knights back to life after they faced a 3-0 deficit against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues on Saturday at T-Mobile Arena. They outworked, outfought and outscrapped their counterparts and breathed hope into a desperate situation.

When it was over, the Knights had won their fourth straight game, this one a 5-4 victory.

Right wing Ryan Reaves got the Knights on the board with 6:50 left in the second period, and rookie center Nic Roy tied the game at 3 3:02 into the third.

“When our line especially chips in, it’s nice to help out and ease the pressure off those top guys,” Reaves said. “They’re trying to shut down top lines, too, while they’re trying to score. It’s nice when that bottom six can chip in.”

The trio of Roy, Reaves and left wing Tomas Nosek was the only one coach Gerard Gallant left untouched after a dismal first period. He mixed up his other three forward lines. He said the fourth line played “fine” in its opening shifts and he just wanted to mix up his top groups.

That decision paid dividends.

Reaves sparked the Knights with his fifth goal — and his first against the team he played for from 2010 to 2017. After rookie defenseman Nic Hague threw a shot from the point on net, Reaves simply muscled his way past several Blues players for the rebound.

“I do,” Reaves said when asked if he enjoys scoring against his former team. “A lot. Sick of those guys winning against us, so that was nice.”

Roy’s goal was similarly gritty. Again, the play started with a Hague shot — this one featuring a nice toe drag — and ended with a Knights player bullying his way to a rebound. This time it was Roy, who scored his second goal.

Neither goal was pretty. But both simply came down to the Knights wanting the puck more in front of the net.

It was enough to make one coach happy and one furious after the game.

“It’s great to have skill and talent on your hockey team, but when you don’t compete and battle in the tough areas well, that’s the difference in games most nights,” Gallant said. “When you watch teams around the league and you see teams that win, it’s usually teams that win the blue paint battles and the board battles, and we did a much better job the second half of the game.”

Said Blues coach Craig Berube: “Got to be harder, everybody. Goalie, everybody. Got to be harder. It doesn’t need to happen.”

Because it did happen, the Knights erased a three-goal deficit and won for the first time in franchise history. And it happened because the unsung players on the fourth line willed it so.

Perron shines in T-Mobile

The Blues still took a point out of Saturday’s game largely because of former Knight David Perron.

The right wing, who played for Vegas during the franchise’s inaugural season, had a goal and two assists. His power-play goal with 7:10 remaining tied the score at 4 after the Blues lost their lead.

“Well, it was special to score that fourth (goal), for sure,” Perron said. “I’ve never scored on (goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury). Never scored against Vegas, obviously, being with St. Louis.”

Perron is the Blues’ leading scorer this season with 43 points (17 goals, 26 assists) in 43 games. He is eligible to be added to the Central Division All-Star Game roster via the “Last Men In” fan vote.

More Golden Knights: Follow at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @GoldenEdgeRJ on Twitter.

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

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