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Knights credit Reaves’ fight for sparking them against Sharks

Updated March 6, 2021 - 10:15 am

Ryan Reaves exited the Golden Knights’ game against the San Jose Sharks in the third period Friday with an undisclosed injury, but the team still credited him with an assist after its overtime win.

Reaves fought Sharks forward Kurtis Gabriel off the opening faceoff in the third period in a move coach Pete DeBoer credited with getting momentum back for the team. Left wing Alex Tuch scored 0:26 later to put the Knights ahead 4-2.

The goal proved crucial as the Sharks scored twice in the third before falling 5-4 in overtime. The spark Reaves provided before leaving ended up being a factor in the Knights winning their fifth straight.

“Obviously, Ryan’s an unbelievable teammate,” said Tuch, who was boarded by Gabriel in the second period. “Everybody here has got each other’s backs and he had mine tonight, and that means a lot to me.”

Reaves’ fight against Gabriel was his second of the season. It came after a second period in which the Knights struggled, giving up two goals while scoring only one of their own. The goal they did get was lucky, too. Left wing Max Pacioretty admitted on the AT&T Sportsnet broadcast he wasn’t shooting to score when he beat goaltender Martin Jones from long range.

The fight seemed to get the Knights going again. Tuch went over to the penalty box afterwards and gave Reaves a stick tap. It was a small gesture that showed Tuch’s appreciation for what Reaves did for him and the team. Pacioretty said after the game the team wanted to win for Reaves after he stepped up, and DeBoer voiced his appreciation as well.

“That’s probably the toughest job in hockey, what he does,” DeBoer said. “But it was a huge piece of us winning tonight. That fourth goal obviously was real important when you look at how the game ended up.”

Reaves ultimately left the game with 7:59 left in the third period. He hit Gabriel in the offensive zone, and Gabriel’s skate appeared to come off the ice and hit Reaves’ lower body.

Reaves was helped off the ice by his teammates and did not return. DeBoer said it’s “nothing serious” after the game.

“He’s going to be fine,” DeBoer said.

Here are three more takeaways from the win:

1. Pacioretty and Stone’s 3-on-3 prowess

The Knights improved to 4-0-0 in games decided in overtime Friday. Three of those games were ended by Pacioretty off an assist from right wing Mark Stone.

The pair’s games compliment each other at five-on-five and it translates to 3-on-3. Stone is the playmaker and Pacioretty is the scorer.

That’s how it played out again Friday. Stone took a hit in the offensive zone to get the puck to defenseman Alex Pietrangelo. The blue liner darted into the offensive zone before firing a backhand pass to Pacioretty in the right circle. Pacioretty didn’t put a lot on the shot, but it still was enough to win the game.

“I’ve had a lot of looks like that as of late and I’ve got a lot of wood on them and they haven’t gone in,” Pacioretty said. “I kind of fanned that one and that one ends up going in so that’s just the way the game goes, I guess.”

2. Jones exits

Jones needs to start petitioning his coaches to give him days off against the Knights.

He was pulled in the second period Friday after allowing three goals on the first eight shots he faced. It was the eighth time in 24 games, including the playoffs, Jones was removed from a game early against the Knights.

Goaltender Devan Dubnyk came in and fared much better. He stopped 17 of the first 18 shots he faced before giving up the overtime winner.

3. PK streak ends

Sharks defenseman Brent Burns scored a power-play goal 6:01 into the second period, breaking the Knights’ long streak of successful penalty kills.

The team got up to 20 in a row before Burns’ shot hit two posts and crossed the goal line. The Knights still finished 4-for-5 on the penalty kill and are 27 for their last 29.

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

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