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Knights goalie moves on from ‘toughest month of my career’

Updated December 29, 2023 - 9:46 am

If all’s well that ends well, then Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson had a pretty solid December.

It wasn’t his best month by almost any other measure.

Thompson breathed a sigh of relief after closing out several trying weeks with 32 saves in a 3-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena.

It was the final game before the Knights (22-10-5) play in the Winter Classic against the Kraken (13-14-9) at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on New Year’s Day.

“I’m just happy this month is over,” Thompson said. “I think everyone showed up and it was like a playoff game out there. So take the win and let’s move on to Seattle and January.”

It was fitting Thompson’s month ended with starts on both nights of a back-to-back. His effort Thursday was in stark contrast to Wednesday’s 5-2 loss to Anaheim.

Thompson allowed four goals on the first nine shots he faced against the Ducks. He showed signs of fatigue, even coming off the NHL’s three-day holiday break.

Thompson opened the season sharing time with goaltender Adin Hill. Then Hill suffered a lower-body injury Nov. 30. He returned Dec. 17, but lasted just 6:25 before exiting.

Rookie Jiri Patera was called up with Hill hurt but has struggled. Patera has an .897 save percentage and 3.98 goals-against average in four appearances.

That’s led to the Knights leaning on Thompson in net. He started nine of the team’s 13 December games and appeared in 10. Thompson gave up 30 goals in the month, with 19 coming in his last four starts before Thursday’s win.

“It’s been a long month, especially for the goalies here,” Thompson said.

Left wing Paul Cotter said he never lost confidence in his teammate. Thompson, after his down month, is 11-6-3 with a .902 save percentage and 2.80 goals-against average.

“Obviously (Thompson) has had his ups and downs like everybody, but he’s been battling,” Cotter said Thursday. “He’s been working hard so he deserved a win. I think we need to play a little better in front of him, but he deserves that one. Now hopefully he can get his confidence up a bit and play up to the caliber we know he can play to, but it’s obviously big to get a win as a goalie.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy still has high expectations for Thompson, who was named an All-Star last season as a rookie.

Cassidy wants him to embrace the challenge of being the Knights’ No. 1 goaltender with Hill out. Cassidy had no update on Hill’s status after Thursday’s game.

“One thing Logan has wanted, (and Hill too) for that matter, was more time in the net,” Cassidy said. “This is an opportunity for more time in the net for whoever is ready to take it. That’s the way I look at it for young players. Opportunity, (Thursday), he took advantage of it and gave us a real solid opportunity to win.”

That’s what Thompson plans to do. He learned late Wednesday after the ugly loss in Anaheim he would start again the next night. He immediately fixed his attention on that.

“(Wednesday’s game) was a write off,” Thompson said. “I didn’t want to think about it. The sun came up (Thursday). It was a new day and that’s what I was focused on.”

Thompson delivered a much steadier performance against the Kings. He’ll try to employ a similar mental strategy moving forward as the calendar flips to January.

“I think mentally this was the toughest month of my career,” Thompson said. “Now it’s just taking a step back and being grateful I’m in the NHL. I don’t know how long my career will last or how long I’ll be a Vegas Golden Knight, but I will just come to the rink every day with a smile on my face and work hard. I think that’s the mindset I’ve got to have from now on, just being happy playing the game I love.”

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

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