ANAHEIM, Calif. — Golden Knights coach Pete DeBoer warned that Sunday’s game could be the toughest of all during his team’s recent stretch despite Anaheim entering on a three-game losing skid.
The Knights were playing the second game of a back-to-back and their third game in four days after an emotional homestand.
But that wasn’t enough to stop the NHL’s hottest team.
Shea Theodore scored with 1:10 remaining in overtime, and William Karlsson had a hat trick in the Knights’ 6-5 victory over the Ducks at Honda Center.
“We’ve played some tough matchups, so it’s good to grind that one out and get the win,” Theodore said.
Alec Martinez had a goal and an assist, and Patrick Brown scored in his debut for the Knights, who extended their win streak to six games.
Mark Stone added four assists and helped set up Theodore’s winner after the Ducks rallied with two goals by Adam Henrique in the final 2:56 of regulation to tie the score at 5.
Theodore skated down the right wing and rather than passing, he sent a shot to the far side that beat Anaheim goaltender John Gibson.
“Normally I’d like to pass it to other guys who I feel like are better at scoring goals,” Theodore said. “I feel like sometimes you’ve got to take what they give and I just tried to shoot it to a spot he couldn’t get it.”
Karlsson broke a 21-game drought when he scored in the second period to put the Knights ahead 3-2. It was his first goal since Dec. 13.
He added two more in the third period, the last of which put the Knights on top 5-3.
“It feels like it’s been forever,” Karlsson said, “so I’m very happy with those three goals and the two points.”
Stone takes over
In honor of voting season, Stone provided a few choices for his best assist.
First, Stone saucered a filthy pass over two sticks during a 3-on-2 to find Martinez at the back post for the defenseman’s second goal in three games since being acquired from Los Angeles.
Then, with less than a minute remaining in the period, Stone carried the puck across the blue line and patiently waited for a play to develop. He found Karlsson in the high slot, and Karlsson wristed a shot through traffic that beat Gibson.
Stone added another helper on Karlsson’s third goal when he spun and sent a pass through the slot. He is up to 42 assists, matching his career high set in 2017-18 with Ottawa.
“Elite,” DeBoer said. “He made a couple all-world plays out there with the puck.”
The players who made up the Knights’ fourth line played a combined 670 NHL games prior to Sunday, with all but 29 of those appearances belonging to Ryan Reaves.
But DeBoer wasn’t afraid to give that group a regular shift, and they rewarded his faith at 12:49 of the first period.
Reaves carried the puck behind the net and centered for Gage Quinney, whose shot was stopped by Gibson. Brown was camped at the top of the crease and banged in the rebound for his second career NHL goal.
Brown is the second player in the past week to score in his Knights’ debut, joining Martinez.
Quinney’s assist was his first point in his second career game.
“My linemates were buzzing all night. It was a blast,” Brown said. “(Reaves) and (Quinney) made great plays, and right spot, right time.”
Trade deadline looms
The Knights remain buyers with the trade deadline approaching, but it’s unclear what general manager Kelly McCrimmon will do before noon Monday.
Several defensemen remain on the market, or McCrimmon could look elsewhere to help improve the Knights’ secondary scoring as injuries have thinned out the bottom six.
With the Knights playing their most consistent hockey, it will be interesting to see whether McCrimmon feels like a major move is needed.