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King of the Hill: Knights goaltender thriving since return

Golden Knights center William Karlsson was asked Tuesday if it was crazy that goaltender Adin Hill has been so good since his return from a lower-body injury.

“I don’t know,” Karlsson said. “Should it be?”

Karlsson’s point was Hill has established a high standard at this point. No amount of impressive saves is going to catch his teammates by surprise.

Hill leads all qualifying goaltenders — those who have appeared in at least 31.5 percent of their team’s games — with a 1.88 goals-against average this season. Winnipeg’s Connor Hellebuyck, the 2020 Vezina Trophy winner, is second at 2.22.

Hill (.938) has the edge over Hellebuyck (.923) atop the NHL’s save percentage leaderboard as well. He’s coming off an incredible performance in the Knights’ 3-1 win against the Oilers on Tuesday, making 30 saves to snap Edmonton’s 16-game winning streak.

“Unbelievable,” center Nicolas Roy said. “If he’s not in the net, I don’t think we come away with a win. He was obviously our best player. It’s good to have him back.”

Saying Hill is on a roll heading into the Knights’ 6 p.m. road game against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday is an understatement.

He’s won five straight starts and six of his last seven. The one team that beat him, the Calgary Flames, needed overtime to do it.

It seems he’s only gotten better since coming back from his injury Jan. 23 against the New York Islanders. Hill, despite missing a significant stretch after getting hurt Nov. 30, has allowed five goals on 106 shots since his return.

He said he had a brief adjustment period, even if it didn’t look that way.

“I felt for a skate or two, you’re fighting the puck a bit,” Hill said. “But I think I’ve been able to adjust pretty well. I think it helps how hard our guys practice here. Every time in practice, they’re shooting to score. I think that helps keep me sharp.

“I feel like I’m just staying patient and letting the game come to me. Not trying to do too much.”

Hill did plenty against the Oilers.

Coach Bruce Cassidy said his team wasn’t super sharp in its first game in 10 days. Hill just covered up all the Knights’ breakdowns. He made so many huge stops Edmonton appeared to be pressing by the end.

“Sometimes you start to try to make the perfect shot or the perfect play and it gets you off your game,” Cassidy said. “We played well in pockets and other times we did not. And we were fortunate that we did it enough that we didn’t have to pay the ultimate price. A lot of that was Hill when we did make mistakes. But that’s what he gets paid to do and he certainly earned his paycheck (Tuesday).

“He’s been great. Obviously, he used the time to take care of himself and get sharp.”

Hill’s teammates have noticed. They’re happy to have their starter for most of last season’s Stanley Cup championship run back in the net.

“The guy is a pro and he takes care of himself,” Karlsson said. “He did a good job in the rehab phase. I don’t know what more to say about him. He saved us there a few times (Tuesday) and he was great on the trip before the break too.”

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @AdamHillLVRJ on X.

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