NEWARK, N.J. — There have been a handful of occasions this season when the Golden Knights needed someone to grab a game by the scruff of the neck and carry the team to victory, but nobody was able to step up and take charge.
With the Knights one period away from an inexcusable loss Tuesday, Jonathan Marchessault moved to the front of the line, took the wheel and drove them across the finish line.
Marchessault recorded a natural hat trick in the first 9:40 of the third period as the Knights pushed their season-long win streak to four games by downing the New Jersey Devils 4-3 at Prudential Center.
“When you’re part of the top two lines on a team, you have to show up every night,” Marchessault said. “You have to give a chance to your team to win every night. I wanted to give that. I don’t always get the results that I want, but I’m always trying my best to help my team win.”
Newly acquired Chandler Stephenson scored in his debut for the Knights and goaltender Malcolm Subban finished with 32 stops in his fifth straight start.
The Knights trailed 2-1 entering the third period before Marchessault tied the score 1:05 in when he deflected William Karlsson’s pass for his first goal in nine games.
Marchessault tipped Deryk Engelland’s shot from the point to put the Knights ahead 3-2 almost four minutes later and then banged in his own rebound on a power play to complete his third career hat trick.
“He’s played really well for me the last four games,” coach Gerard Gallant said, “and that’s the way Marchy plays when he gets that … snotty nose or whatever you want to call it, going hard to the net.”
Before the comeback, the Knights were 1-9-1 when trailing after two periods and 2-8-3 in games their opponent scored first.
“We’re finding ways to win games, and that’s what you have to do when you’re a good hockey team,” Subban said. “Obviously, you’re not going to play your best every night, but you’ve got to find a way to pull it out, and I think we did that tonight.”
Here’s what stood out from the Knights’ win:
1. New guy.
Stephenson took a red-eye Monday night from San Jose, California, after the trade from the Washington Capitals and had a few meetings to learn the Knights’ systems.
He centered the fourth line between Tomas Nosek and Ryan Reaves and made an immediate contribution by converting on one of Alex Tuch’s three assists to tie the score at 1-1 early in the second period.
“It’s nice to get the first game out of the way,” Stephenson said. “I just saw an opening right off the bench, and Tuch made a nice play. That’s just kind of the cherry on top for how everything’s been so far.”
2. Major change.
The Devils, who were blasted 7-1 in Buffalo on Monday, fired coach John Hynes and named Alain Nasreddine as the interim coach less than three hours before the game.
The move motivated New Jersey, which had a 17-7 advantage in shots on goal and led 1-0 after the first period.
But the Knights weathered the storm and created more chances in the final two periods by working the puck low to high in the offensive zone.
“They came out flying like we knew they would,” Engelland said. “(Subban) held us in there, and we responded coming out in the second and battled for him.”
3. Quiet Goose.
The Knights finally got a chance to see Nikita Gusev in a game after they couldn’t afford to sign the Russian import in the offseason and traded him to New Jersey.
Gusev didn’t make much of an impact. His final stat line read two shots on goal, two giveaways and a minus-1 rating in 14:54 of ice time.