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Hot streak gives Golden Knights’ Nicolas Roy dose of confidence

Nicolas Roy wasn’t getting many breaks early in his second season.

The Golden Knights center scored once in his first 25 shots. That affected his confidence and got to his head on the ice. Once that happens to any hockey player, even a half second of hesitation can cause the scoring chances they’re generating to go away.

But Roy has course-corrected lately. He’s no longer waiting. He’s attacking. And he’s been rewarded, with four goals and eight points in his last nine games.

Roy had a goal and an assist in the Knights’ 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday at Honda Center in Anaheim, California.

“At the start of the season, when you don’t get the bounces, when you have good chances but they don’t go in, you’re playing with less confidence,” Roy said. “Lately, I’ve been lucky. The same bounces, they went in so I’m playing with a lot more confidence right now.”

Roy has played center most of his life and is used to being a pass-first player. But his game began to take off again when he started being more selfish.

The 24-year-old has 16 shots on goal in his last 10 games. He’s using his size and skill to put pressure on defenses. His hot streak has emboldened him enough to attempt some impressive plays.

Roy had an impressive goal Friday when he stole the puck from one defender, toe-dragged around another and scored top shelf.

“I was yelling at him on the bench to shoot, shoot, shoot, but he makes that poise play to pull it and go upstairs,” captain Mark Stone said. “Not a lot of guys can do that in this league.”

Roy wasn’t attempting those moves earlier in the season when he had four points in his first 32 games. Lately, he’s been contributing almost every night, and it’s given him the belief to try new things.

“He’s done a really good job of managing the puck and getting to the areas to score goals,” Stone said. “He’s getting a lot more looks.”

Marleau to hit major milestone

The Knights and fans will witness history when Vegas hosts the San Jose Sharks at 7 p.m. Monday at T-Mobile Arena.

Sharks forward Patrick Marleau will surpass Gordie Howe for the most games played in NHL history with the 1,768th appearance of his career. The 41-year-old tied Howe, who has held the record since 1961, on Saturday against the Minnesota Wild.

Knights coach Pete DeBoer, who coached Marleau two seasons in San Jose, called the achievement “mind-boggling.” Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said it was “unbelievable.” Stone, who has played in 492 games, said it was “crazy to think about.”

“I think everybody in our locker room respects the hell out of what he’s doing,” Stone said. “I’ve played seven full seasons now, and it’s been a grind. For him to play 82 games a season, never miss a game, always be there, that speaks volumes about how good of a professional he is.”

Smith exits early

Knights right wing Reilly Smith played one shift in the third period Sunday and did not return.

DeBoer called Smith day to day. The 30-year-old has 16 points in 44 games.

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

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