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Knights goalie rips himself: ‘I haven’t been good my last 10 games’

Logan Thompson sat on his pads and stared across the ice after Tuesday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils.

When he left his crease, a postgame pep talk from defenseman Brayden McNabb did nothing to quell his frustration. Thompson kicked the Golden Knights’ bench on his way to the locker room.

The rookie goaltender was excellent against the NHL’s third-best team, but dropped to 1-4-1 in his past six starts. He couldn’t hide his disappointment in the Prudential Center’s visiting locker room. He was upset with himself for, in his mind, coming up short in a game the Knights had an opportunity to win.

It didn’t matter if it wasn’t necessarily fair. Thompson is in a rut, and his reaction showed that the Knights need to find a way to pull him out of it.

“That’s unacceptable,” Thompson said. “I haven’t been good my last 10 games. I got to start winning hockey (games). That’s what I’m here to do, and I haven’t done my job.”

Coach Bruce Cassidy absolved Thompson of blame for any of the Devils’ goals.

The first two — including defenseman Dougie Hamilton’s equalizer with 1:10 left in the third period — came on fortunate bounces in front of the Knights’ net. The third was a wide-open one-timer from Hamilton in the slot. The ESPN+/Hulu broadcast clocked the shot at 93 mph.

“I can’t fault him on that,” Cassidy said. “That’s probably a goal on most goalies in this league any night.”

Thompson doesn’t deserve blame for some of the other recent results, either.

He hesitated on whether to play the puck on one goal Sunday against the Arizona Coyotes, but the Knights’ slot coverage was poor in a 4-1 loss. He made 32 saves against Western Conference-leading Dallas on Jan. 16 but lost because the Knights were shut out.

Thompson is tied for eighth in the NHL in wins with 19. His .912 save percentage is above the NHL average of .905. The Knights needed someone to step up in net with Robin Lehner out for the season with a hip injury, and Thompson has done it.

“He had a really good game (Tuesday),” center William Karlsson said. “Made some huge saves to keep us in the lead.”

Thompson can still be better.

He had a .943 save percentage in October. That fell to .909 in November, .905 in December and now .900 in January. He’s allowed one goal or fewer once in his past 19 starts. He’s given up four or more six times in that span.

Thompson will have to work to make adjustments as opponents start to compile better scouting reports on him. He made only 20 appearances in the previous two seasons. He’s at 34 this season.

“It’s frustrating,” Thompson said. “I feel like everyone’s doing their job right now except for me.”

Cassidy said part of the logic in starting Thompson in the past three games was to try to get him on a roll before he participates in NHL All-Star Weekend.

It worked at first, with the 25-year-old making 20 saves to beat Washington on Saturday. Then came the setbacks in Arizona and New Jersey.

It has left the Knights with an aggravated goaltender as they try to pull themselves out of a 1-4-1 skid. They have two games remaining to get themselves and Thompson feeling good before the break.

“He acknowledged it, that (his game) was not as good as he’d like,” Cassidy said Tuesday. “So you give him some more starts or you work in between. There’s different approaches. We decided to give him a few starts, and I thought he deserved better tonight.”

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

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