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Knights looking for spark on offense in Game 5 against Stars

Updated April 30, 2024 - 7:38 pm

Work together as a unit of five.

That’s been the goal in the Golden Knights’ locker room any time they couldn’t put together a 60-minute effort or suffered a string of losses this season. They’ve resolved to improve the foundation of their success: Five-on-five play.

It’s been the Knights’ call to action since coach Bruce Cassidy arrived two years ago. It’s what made them dominant last season on their road to a Stanley Cup championship.

It’s also what’s been lacking throughout their Western Conference first-round series against the Dallas Stars.

The Knights have 11 goals through four games. Just six have come at five-on-five, where they are being outscored 8-6 by the Stars.

“If you look, each team has probably had their way in one of the games and they had it longer than us the other night,” Cassidy said. “But in general, here we are tied 2-2 with all close games.”

The Knights started the series strong by winning the first two games in Dallas. Two straight wins by the Stars has now made it a best-of-three.

Game 5 at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in American Airlines Center will be pivotal in determining who advances. The Knights will need to score like they did the firsttwo games to succeed. They scored four goals total — including just two at five-on-five — in Games 3 and 4 at T-Mobile Arena.

“The past few games, I think our offense has been lacking in being productive and opportunistic,” right wing Jonathan Marchessault said. “I think guys like me need to lead the way and bring our best game next time.”

Dallas got depth scoring in its 4-2 win in Game 4 on Monday.

Bottom-six forwards Evgenii Dadonov and Ty Dellandrea scored two of the Stars’ goals. The Knights aren’t getting the same kind of contributions up and down their lineup.

Right wing Michael Amadio’s goal Monday was the team’s first by a bottom-six forward this series. The Knights have gotten two goals from top-line forwards Marchessault and center Jack Eichel. No other forward has more than one.

“I think we generated good chances, but at the end of the day it’s the playoffs and we have to find a way to find the back of the net,” Marchessault said. “(Monday), we didn’t.”

Health could be a huge factor in the Knights’ recent offensive performances.

Center William Karlsson — who has no points this series — has not participated in the team’s last two morning skates. He also took only seven faceoffs the last two games. Cassidy said that was by design but did not elaborate, implying Karlsson is dealing with an undisclosed injury.

Captain Mark Stone is working his way back from a lacerated spleen. Stone, who missed the last two months of the regular season, does not have a point since his power-play goal in Game 1 and is minus-4 at five-on-five this series.

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo also appears to still be finding his footing after a lengthy absence. Pietrangelo, who missed almost the entire final month of the regular season with an illness and an appendectomy, was the cause of the Stars’ two second-period goals Monday.

His penalty led to right wing Wyatt Johnston’s game-tying goal, and his turnover led to Dellandrea’s game-winner. Pietrangelo isn’t helping on offense, either. He is still looking for his first point this series.

Chemistry could be playing a role in the team’s five-on-five play as well.

Center Tomas Hertl played just six regular-season games with the Knights after arriving at the trade deadline and has moved around the lineup against the Stars. Hertl doesn’t have a point since Game 1.

The Knights need several of those players to find their game to give their offense a lift. Otherwise, Dallas could continue to gain momentum in the series.

“We have a lot of gamers, and it’s that time of the year when we have to find a way to have a hero,” Marchessault said. “In the playoffs, it’s all about being able to bring the best effort of 20 guys and also one line stepping up at the right time. Right now, we don’t have that.”

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

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