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Golden Knights return to original top-6 forward lines

Updated March 3, 2021 - 8:17 pm

Pete DeBoer’s latest experiment with his forward lines is done.

The Golden Knights coach went back to his tried-and-true, top-six combinations for Wednesday’s rematch against the Minnesota Wild at T-Mobile Arena, the same ones he used in the third period of Monday’s come-from-behind win.

That meant Max Pacioretty, fresh off a two-goal effort, was back on the top line with center Chandler Stephenson and right wing Mark Stone. The Misfit Line of William Karlsson centering Jonathan Marchessault and Reilly Smith also was reunited.

“There’s a fine line there,” DeBoer said. “Players and coaches, we’d love to have the same combinations the entire year. I think a coach, when things get stagnant or your team hasn’t had momentum for a large chunk of a game or games, we only have so many tools in order to spark a team.”

DeBoer switched up the forward lines and defense pairs entering the series finale against Colorado on Feb. 22 hoping to snap a two-game losing skid. The Knights responded with a 3-0 victory and stuck with the lineup for Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win at Anaheim.

But the lines didn’t produce much offense.

In the win over the Ducks, the Knights had fewer shot attempts, scoring chances and high-dangers chances during five-on-five play, according to NaturalStatTrick.com. And Minnesota led 4-2 after two periods Monday before DeBoer’s changes up front.

Stephenson, Stone and Alex Tuch had a plus-one goal differential, but the Knights were outshot 21-9 at five-on-five and allowed 60 percent of the scoring chances when they were on the ice.

The trio of Pacioretty, Smith and center Cody Glass fared slightly better, as the Knights had 50 percent of the shot attempts and a 5-2 advantage in high-danger chances. They didn’t produce a five-on-five goal, however.

And the third line that featured Karlsson, Marchessault and Nicolas Roy produced 45 percent of the shot attempts at five-on-five, though Marchessault scored in Colorado and Karlsson tallied twice in Anaheim.

“I don’t think it was anything that was like a panic,” Stephenson said. “When they change the lines, some games you aren’t scoring. Little stretches where you might not score that many goals or the offense just isn’t there. You just need a little shake-up.”

Parise scratched

Wild assistant captain Zach Parise was a healthy scratch Wednesday for the first time in his nine seasons with the club.

Parise was on the ice when the Knights scored the tying goal with 41.6 seconds remaining in the third period of Monday’s 5-4 overtime victory over Minnesota. He was at the end of a 1:33 shift and had a chance to intercept a pass intended for Stone, but the puck went off the blade of Parise’s stick. Stone then found Tuch alone in front for the tap-in.

“I’m not going to go into details, but I will explain to you that we as an organization, a staff, make a decision each game, each night, of our lineup, and we’ve made the decision to go with the lineup that we’re going with,” Wild coach Dean Evason said after Wednesday’s morning skate. “It’s a group decision, and Zach’s out here tonight.”

Parise’s explanation Wednesday for staying on the ice was that he was trying to help Marcus Foligno notch his first career hat trick with the Knights’ net empty. After Foligno changed, Parise said he was unable to get to the bench.

Parise has struggled with one goal in his past 13 games. He has nine points (three goals, six assists) in 19 games.

“It was disappointing, and I don’t agree with the decision,” the 36-year-old Parise said. “I know in my heart I had the best of intentions to try and get Marcus the hat trick. Unfortunately it ended the way it did, and here we are.”

Helmet talk

The Yelp reviews on the Knights’ gold helmets remain mixed, to say the least. Marchessault was asked about the chrome buckets, and his long pause before answering said it all.

”It’s my organization. I’m not going to say they have something bad,” Marchessault said. “But I honestly don’t mind them. At first they were a little tough for the eyes.”

Marchessault called the gold jerseys that the Knights wore Wednesday “flashy,” but prefers the reverse retro jersey with the secondary logo.

“The red one is really nice,” he said. “I like the retro phase the NHL is going through this year. Our organization did a great job to make us look nice on the ice.”

Silver Knights add goalie

Goaltender Billy Christopoulos signed a professional tryout agreement with the Silver Knights. He appeared in 11 games with the ECHL’s Indy Fuel.

Contact David Schoen at dschoen@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5203. Follow @DavidSchoenLVRJ on Twitter.

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