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Golden Knights could get key players back on road trip

Updated January 23, 2022 - 1:49 pm

The Golden Knights are working toward adding some key players to their lineup during their four-game road trip that starts Monday against Washington.

Goaltenders Laurent Brossoit (upper-body injury) and Logan Thompson (was in COVID-19 protocol) took a step toward a return by practicing with the team Sunday. So did defenseman Alec Martinez (upper-body), who is considered day to day. Defenseman Nic Hague (was in COVID-19 protocol) appeared to be practicing as well in a video tweeted by the team.

The Knights also brought left wing Max Pacioretty (wrist surgery) and defenseman Zach Whitecloud (upper-body) on the trip. Pacioretty skated on his own Sunday while Whitecloud did not. Bringing them along is a sign the Knights are optimistic they’ll be available before they head home Jan. 29.

“We had four lines and seven defensemen today for the first time in a long time,” coach Pete DeBoer said. “We know what we’re facing here, this gauntlet of teams. I think guys are excited about the opportunity to play some of these teams.”

Brossoit has missed the last six games and Thompson has been out the last two. Goaltender Robin Lehner has made five straight starts as a result coming off a lower-body injury. He’s gone 2-2-1 with a .893 save percentage and 13 goals allowed in that span.

Getting Brossoit or Thompson back could help the Knights avoid overtaxing Lehner. They play in Carolina on Tuesday a day after facing the Capitals.

Martinez hasn’t played since Nov. 11 because of a facial laceration and time in the COVID-19 protocol in addition to his upper-body injury. Hague and Pacioretty haven’t appeared since Dec. 28 because of wrist injuries. Pacioretty’s required surgery. DeBoer said he was “hopeful” Pacioretty would play at some point on the trip.

Whitecloud missed Thursday’s win against the Montreal Canadiens and is considered day to day. One player who did not travel with the Knights to start the trip is captain Mark Stone, who remains in COVID-19 protocol.

Martinez, Hague and Whitecloud’s absences meant the Knights were without half of their first-choice blue line last game against Montreal.

“When we get Hague and Marty back, it’s a pretty good group,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “A pretty reliable group that can take care of their own end and get pucks out, get it into the forwards’ hands and also get up the ice, make offensive plays and put points on the board. … It’ll be fun to get everyone in at the same time.”

Stephenson’s return

Monday will mark center Chandler Stephenson’s first game in Washington since being traded to the Knights on Dec. 2, 2019.

Stephenson spent parts of five seasons with the Capitals after being drafted by the team in the third round, 77th overall, in 2012. He was part of Washington’s first Stanley Cup Final win in 2018 against the Knights, playing all five games of the series.

The trade allowed him to blossom from bottom-six grinder to top-six center. His speed and skill were unlocked playing with talented players like Stone and Pacioretty.

Stephenson has 95 points in 132 games with the Knights, including a team-leading 38 in 40 games this season. He had 33 points in 168 games in Washington.

“I’d never been in that situation in the NHL playing against other team’s top lines or with the best players,” Stephenson said. “That was obviously something that was different. Ever since I got to Vegas, it’s been nothing but great things.”

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

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