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Knights goaltender shows swagger in playoffs: ‘I’m really comfortable’

DALLAS — One of the first people to believe in Logan Thompson’s NHL potential stands on the opposing bench this series.

The Golden Knights were fighting for their playoff lives in March 2022. Injuries struck goaltenders Robin Lehner and Laurent Brossoit.

Dallas Stars coach Pete DeBoer, then the Knights’ coach, turned to the 2021 American Hockey League goalie of the year: Thompson.

It almost saved the team’s season then. Thompson, in his first taste of the Stanley Cup playoffs, is displaying the same kind of mettle now in leading the Knights to a 2-0 lead in their first-round series with the Stars.

Game 3 is at T-Mobile Arena on Saturday.

“When he came in, he had some swagger to him,” DeBoer said. “He wasn’t overwhelmed by the moment.”

Thompson has always been confident, not cocky.

His competitive fire is the reason he’s gone from Canadian college hockey to the NHL. He played to prove he deserved more attention.

He then went out and earned it.

Thompson went 9-3-3 with a .920 save percentage down the stretch in 2022. His efforts meant the Knights weren’t eliminated until the penultimate game of the regular season. He’s been in the NHL ever since.

“He was one of the bright spots at that moment, particularly with what we were dealing with at that position at the time,” DeBoer said, before adding with a laugh: “I probably should’ve played him more.”

DeBoer, who was fired after that playoff miss, is facing a confident Thompson again this series.

The 27-year-old won the first two playoff starts of his career and played a key role in both victories. He’s made 46 saves through two games and allowed just four goals.

“It’s fun,” Thompson said. “It’s definitely not over. Just got to regroup, refocus and get ready for Game 3.”

The run Thompson went on this March was similar to the one he had two years ago.

The Knights weren’t in grave danger of missing the playoffs this time. But they were in need of a spark. Injuries and inconsistency from goaltender Adin Hill forced Thompson into a larger role.

He went 8-3 after the beginning of March to help the Knights secure their playoff spot and feel good about their game heading into the postseason.

He’s carried that form into this series against the Stars.

Thompson made huge saves in Game 2, a back-and-forth contest that featured a strong performance from goaltender Jake Oettinger as well. One mistake from either netminder could have decided things.

Thompson held firm.

When Oettinger robbed Knights defenseman Shea Theodore with a diving glove save in the second period, Thompson responded with a left pad stop on Dallas center Wyatt Johnston to keep the score 1-1.

Defenseman Noah Hanifin gave the Knights the lead with 1:07 remaining until the second intermission and the team never looked back. The Stars never got close to an equalizer.

It was a defensive performance similar to the ones the Knights used to win the Stanley Cup last season. They played with structure in their own zone, blocked 15 shots and counted on Thompson to make saves when they were caught out of position.

He was up to the task.

“I’m used to it by now. It’s been two years with this group,” Thompson said. “My first year was a little hectic, but now I fully trust my forward group and my (defensive) group in front of me. I’m really comfortable and you know the team’s clicking when they’re getting in front of every puck and we battle for each other.”

The Knights haven’t played a dominant offensive game yet this series. They’ve scored seven goals so far, one of them being an empty netter.

They’ve relied on their defense and goaltending for their two wins. It wasn’t clear whether they could before the playoffs given Thompson’s lack of postseason experience. But the swagger he’s shown late in the regular season has translated to the games that matter the most.

“I think it just shows we know how to win,” Thompson said. “We’ve done it all year.”

Contact Danny Webster at dwebster@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DannyWebster21 on X.

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